cover image Expecting the Unexpected

Expecting the Unexpected

Mavis Jukes. Delacorte Press Books for Young Readers, $15.95 (132pp) ISBN 978-0-385-32242-3

Full of broad humor and not-so-subtle ironies, this lighthearted novel shows how 12-year-old River learns the facts of life in a pilot sex education class taught in her school by peppy Mrs. Furley, a visiting nurse. If River does not have the courage to try on one of her sister's Kotex pads and ""take it for a spin,"" as Furley suggests, the sixth grader does become well versed in the signs of pregnancy and soon becomes convinced that her teenaged sister is expecting a baby. Although the plot--a string of miscalculated suspicions--is unabashedly contrived, the characterizations, including River's down-to-earth mother and trod-upon homeroom teacher, are fresh and vivid. Relentless jests about PMS, pubic hair and panty liners become a little forced, but nonetheless demonstrate how well attuned Jukes (It's a Girl Thing) is to pre-adolescent concerns and attitudes about puberty. Ages 10-up. (Oct.)