cover image Secrets

Secrets

Alane Ferguson / Author Simon & Schuster $16 (0p) ISBN 978-0-6

The chance meeting at a zoo between an adopted boy and his biological mother is the first of a series of contrivances advancing Ferguson's (Poison) overdramatized story to its predictable conclusion. Some rather shaky evidence--T.J. Lancester's birth date and his strawberry-colored birthmark--convinces zoo employee Nancy Champion that the 12-year-old boy who visits the monkey house nearly every day is the son she gave up for adoption. Soon after announcing her revelation to a baffled T.J. (who has no idea he was adopted), she hits him with another whammy: the existence of T.J.'s full sister, an eight-year-old, whose life T.J. saves later in the novel. As he gets to know his biological family, T.J. feels increasingly resentful of his rich adoptive father (Nancy is on the edge of poverty) and decides to ""divorce"" him in order to live with Nancy. While readers might pity Nancy as she relates her woeful account of being dumped twice by her children's father (""You must not be a very good judge of men,"" T.J. astutely observes), they may also question her prudence in upsetting T.J.'s comfortable life. Most will find it hard to relate to any of the thinly drawn characters in this story. Ages 8-12. (June)