cover image Tune in Anytime

Tune in Anytime

Caroline B. Cooney. Delacorte Press Books for Young Readers, $8.95 (192pp) ISBN 978-0-385-32649-0

Cooney (The Face on the Milk Carton) offers lighter fare than her usual thrillers with this intermittently engaging satire. Sophie Olivette bills her life as a soap opera: ""There are probably many ways to break into soap operas, but one way, Sophie discovered, is just to stand there. As your parents lose their minds, their sense and their money, you will be the star,"" the story begins. The comparison is no exaggeration. Sophie's father has decided to marry Sophie's older sister's roommate, a college freshman; Sophie's mother, a New Age sort, spends her time at a gravel pit communing with stones, thinking of them as a latter-day Stonehenge. All Sophie can think of to retaliate is a hare-brained scheme involving the bulldozing of her own architecturally prestigious house, so that her father will not get the lucrative proceeds from his planned sale and will therefore not be able to finance his cushy life with wife No. 2. The dialogue is snappy, the narrative is full of pithy summaries of Sophie's feelings, and Mr. and Mrs. Olivette are clearly ridiculous, but Cooney doesn't get readers to laugh much. As tuned in as ever to her teen protagonists' feelings, she makes Sophie's pain and outrage feel all too real--a verisimilitude that doesn't sit well with farce. Ages 12-up. (Sept.)