cover image Silver


Norma Fox Mazer. Harper Teen, $16 (288pp) ISBN 978-0-688-06865-3

Sarabeth Silver's mother, who cleans houses for a living, tells Sarabeth, 14, ``People like us have to look out for opportunities.'' When the tenant of trailer Two moves out, her mother is ready to move in because it falls in a better school district for Sarabeth than did their old trailer. At her new junior high, Sarabeth is drawn to Grant and her friends Patty, Jennifer and Asa, who are all cut from the same mold: rich, pretty, well-dressed. But Grant likes Sarabeth too, and pretty soon SarabethGrant calls her Silveris one of the gang. When Sarabeth is invited to the first of the group's rotating sleep-over parties, she sees just how different her life is from theirs. How can she reciprocate when she lives in a cramped, rented trailer? But when Patty needs help, it is Sarabeth she turns to, and Sarabeth shows that she has as much of value to give as her wealthy friends. Mazer ( After the Rain , among many others) truly understands a young teen's yearnings to be liked and accepted as a friend; the story is very subtly drawn and the author resists the obvious conclusions about rich vs. poor and so doesn't indict anyone. The book captures the endearingly goofy moments of youth; what is especially striking is that Sarabeth insists on being taken on her own terms and vigorously resists being labeled ``poor.'' Ages 12-up. (October)