cover image Sisters =: Hermanas

Sisters =: Hermanas

Gary Paulsen, Bertrand Piccard. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt P, $10.95 (63pp) ISBN 978-0-15-275323-8

Poetically wrought, this novel reveals the parallels in the seemingly disparate circumstances of Rosa, an illegal immigrant-turned-prostitute, and Traci, a popular junior-high student preparing for cheerleader tryouts. Appropriately enough, the girls' story is told in both their native languages: upon finishing the tale in English, bilingual readers can flip the slim volume over and reread the story in a Spanish translation. Though the 14-year-old protagonists' ethnic and economic backgrounds are very different, the two girls are connected by their obsession with beauty. For Rosa, expensive clothes and a perfect body are requirements of the job she detests. Traci (coached by her mother) has come to believe that flawless beauty is the key to happiness. Although Traci, surrounded by wealth and comfort, is seemingly successful in her endeavors, the tragic elements of her life are no less chilling than the grim fate of Rosa, who is eventually apprehended by the police. Dark in its criticism of American values and its depiction of young women trained to please others, this book, easily read in one sitting, succeeds in narrowing cultural gaps as it portrays the awakenings of two kindred spirits. Ages 12-up. (Nov.)