cover image Bloomability


Sharon Creech. Joanna Cotler Books, $17.99 (288pp) ISBN 978-0-06-026993-7

A light first-person narrative and some insightful dream flashes (taken from the protagonist's journal) convey an uprooted 13-year-old's coming of age. Domenica Santolina Doone (""It's a mouthful, so most people call me Dinnie""), whose father is always in search of ""the right opportunity,"" has already lived in 12 different cities. With her father on the road, her older brother Crick in jail and her 16-year-old sister, Stella, giving birth, it's little surprise that Dinnie is ""kidnapped"" by her aunt and uncle and taken from her ""little New Mexico hill town"" to the American School in Lugano, Switzerland, where the pair work. Tired of always being on the move, Dinnie is determined not to get attached to her newest environment (""I won't adjust! I won't adapt! I won't! I'll rebel!""), but surrounded by other ""foreigners""--students from all corners of the world--she finds it easier than she had imagined to make friends. Guthrie, a classmate, helps her see a sense of possibility, or ""bloomability,"" and to grow from her experiences. Creech (Walk Two Moons) skims the surface of Dinnie's gradual emergence from her protective ""bubble"" rather than delving into Dinnie's feelings about the deeper ramifications of her family's unraveling. The author tells rather than shows the poignant moments (e.g., Dinnie has no reaction when her parents forget her on Christmas; her friend Lila's vacillating moods go unexplained), which results in a reportlike view of the school year, rather than insight into the purported change in Dinnie. Some readers wishing to glimpse an adventure abroad may think this is just the ticket; however, fans of the author's previous works will likely miss her more fully realized characters. Ages 8-12. (Sept.)