cover image As if Being 12  Isn't Bad Enough, My Mother Is Running for President

As if Being 12 Isn't Bad Enough, My Mother Is Running for President

Donna Gephart, . . Delacorte, $15.99 (227pp) ISBN 978-0-385-73481-3

Even though her breasts are “the size of cherry pits” and her widowed mother—the governor of Florida and a frontrunner in the Democratic presidential primaries—is rarely around, wonderful things are happening for seventh-grader Vanessa Rothrock. She wins the school spelling bee, and love notes from a secret admirer appear in her locker. Vanessa is proud of her mother's political success, but she grows weary of receiving motherly advice via telephone, e-mail and hastily scribbled notes. First-novelist Gephart adds a good degree of tension as Vanessa accidentally finds hate mail addressed to her mother; Vanessa is sure her mother is in imminent danger, but her mother—who happens to be meeting with Governor Schwarzenegger—explains that she receives dozens a day (“You should have seen the ones I got during the budget crunch,” says Gephart's Schwarzenegger. “Half the state wanted to pummel me to death with oranges”). Soon afterward, Vanessa begins receiving threatening letters at school from someone who wants her to pressure her mother into dropping out of the race. Gephart maintains the humor even as the stakes rise; she also successfully captures life in the public eye. She delivers a diverting story that also gives readers an intelligent look at primaries, caucuses and nominating conventions. Ages 8-12. (Feb.)