cover image WHO'S YOUR DADDY?


Lynda Sandoval, . . Simon Pulse, $6.99 (318pp) ISBN 978-0-689-86440-7

A mouthy protagonist breathes life into a fun but fairly predictable novel about three best friends searching for love. Lila, Meryl and Caressa are 16-year-old "freaks" who blame their dads (a police chief, a vice principal and an intimidating musician) for their lackluster love lives. To change their luck, they turn to a metaphysical ceremony—a "dumb supper" (as in silent)—after which "whichever guy sees us first ... will be the guy we're supposed to date." But while the ceremony is a disaster, the girls are split about its success: Lila, who sees "freakin'-totally-not-for-moi" Dylan, a lieutenant for the Police Explorers, refuses to believe, but Meryl is swept away by the Bosnian immigrant who fixes her tire, and Caressa has the hots for a young blues musician pictured on a CD cover. The characters are formulaic: Lila is the rebel (she is grounded after forging parent signatures for profit), Meryl is smart and does not watch TV, and Caressa is beautiful and makeup obsessed. But Lila makes a funny and feisty narrator (the others swap in to narrate occasionally, or chat with each other online), and she keeps the story rolling ("if fate thought I was destined to be with a guy like Dylan ,... fate needed to back sloooooowly away from the crack pipe"). It's obvious how most of the plot will work itself out, and the author makes the lessons abundantly clear. Overall this is a charming, warm story, if not especially innovative. Ages 12-up. (Oct.)