cover image Best Foot Forward

Best Foot Forward

Joan Bauer, . . Putnam, $16.99 (192pp) ISBN 978-0-399-23474-3

Lots of teenage girls go crazy for shoes, but 16-year-old Jenna Boller is gaga for the shoe business—especially as it's run by her employer and role model Madeline Gladstone, matriarch of Gladstone Shoes. In this fittingly kicky companion to Rules of the Road , readers accompany Jenna on a personal and professional journey that leaves her standing taller than ever in her Rolling Walkers. The road to a job well done is littered with detours, however. Bauer takes Jenna emotionally deeper here, as the heroine struggles in her home life—she is trying to accept her now-absent alcoholic father and be supportive of her mother and younger sister—and these challenges are always on her mind, even as things get especially chaotic at work. Gladstone's recent merger with a larger company is fraught with problems and Jenna finds herself helping to untangle an unpleasant web of corporate corruption. She must also micromanage (at Mrs. Gladstone's insistence) a new hire who once shoplifted shoes from the store. That leaves little time for having fun or for exploring a budding romance with Charlie from the local doughnut shop. But in Bauer's sure hand, Jenna's compassion and burgeoning confidence bubble up when she needs them most and slowly harden into a solid, likeable core. The teen's efforts to put her best foot forward pay off in ways she couldn't imagine. And via vivid characterizations, crisp, believable dialogue and some exciting scenarios, Bauer keeps her fans hooked for an entertaining ride. Ages 12-up. (June)