cover image Sam & Ilsa’s Last Hurrah

Sam & Ilsa’s Last Hurrah

Rachel Cohn and David Levithan. Knopf, $17.99 (224p) ISBN 978-0-399-55384-4

Nearly 18-year-old twins Ilsa and Sam are throwing a final dinner party at their grandmother Czarina’s rent-controlled apartment on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. The party is final for two reasons: Czarina has finally agreed to sell her lease for an outrageous sum of money, allowing her to move to Paris, and the twins are graduating from high school. Described by Sam and Ilsa in alternating chapters, the dinner does not turn out as either anticipated. The twins and some of their guests are harboring secrets and grudges, and by the time the evening is over none of the relationships is quite the same. In their fifth collaboration, Cohn and Levithan (The Twelve Days of Dash & Lily) present another love letter to New York City while exploring a complicated sibling relationship. The duo excels at creating witty characters who deal with real-life struggles in heartwarming, humorous ways, but this novel’s funny moments rely less on sharp banter than on snarky comments made by a sock puppet named Caspian, undercutting some of its emotional impact. Ages 12–up. [em]Agent: (for Cohn) Jennifer Rudolph Walsh, William Morris Endeavor; (for Levithan) Bill Clegg, Clegg Agency. (Apr.)[/em]