cover image Just the Two of Us

Just the Two of Us

Jan Greenberg. Farrar Straus Giroux, $14 (147pp) ISBN 978-0-374-36198-3

The author of Exercises of the Heart writes again of a communication breakdown between mother and daughter, but this time the disagreement leads to separation. Until Holly's mother springs her plan to move them to Des Moines, the two of them had shared a studio apartment in Manhattan. Holly balks at the move, and finally persuades her mother to let her spend the summer with her best friend Max's family, in a four-story brownstone. But the summer is not what Holly had planned. The business that she and Max were to have launched is not as successful as she had hoped, and she misses her mother, who seems to be settling into Iowa so well that she has found time to make a male friend. And Max's family, seemingly so glamorous to Holly, show themselves to be so busy and self-involved that she feels constantly alone. The many disparate elements of this volume are never truly pulled together, and readers will have trouble believing that Holly would choose (supposedly permanently) life with strangers rather than a home with her own family. Max's brother and parents are entertaining, but even when they reform they are more style than substance. Ages 10-up. (Nov.)