cover image BECAUSE OF ANYA


Margaret Peterson Haddix, . . S&S, $15.95 (128pp) ISBN 978-0-689-83298-7

Haddix (Among the Hidden) returns with a short but often informative tale of ordinary girls facing exceptional circumstances. "Could someone be beautiful with ugly hair? Or—no hair?" wonders 10-year old Anya as she confronts her image in her bedroom mirror. When the first small bald patch shows up on Anya's head, it seems like a small thing, but as the bald patches grow and her hair falls out in clumps, she's diagnosed with an auto-immune disease. At first she thinks. "Whatever alopecia areata was couldn't be too bad, because it was such a pretty name.... It should be one of the ladies in King Arthur's court." All too soon, however, she's wearing a wig, and her classmates Keely, Stef, Tonya and Nicole are wondering if she has cancer. Then the unthinkable occurs: her wig falls off during gym, seemingly pulled off by Stef, the most popular (and bossiest) girl in school. The humiliation is almost too much to bear but Keely, usually only too happy to follow Stef's lead, reaches out to her classmate; Anya gains the courage to accept her condition and the joys of unexpected friendship. Haddix successfully chooses two viewpoints, Anya's (victim) and Keely's (observer), to examine the effects of alopecia, but she oversimplifies Anya's and Keely's relationships to the other girls. The examination of the disease and its accompanying medical information, while useful, takes too much precedence over the development of the friendship. Ages 8-12. (Nov.)