cover image MARGAUX WITH AN X


Ron Koertge, . . Candlewick, $15.99 (165pp) ISBN 978-0-7636-2401-9

As with his Stoner and Spaz , Koertge creates fully realized characters—in the form of gorgeous Margaux Wilcox and scruffy Danny Riley, a volunteer at the Humane Society—and their unlikely bond. The author adopts a third-person narration, but the novel unfolds largely through Margaux's perspective, and her love of language makes for a stimulating read ("One of the things she likes—one of the things she's good at—is turbocharged persiflage"). Although she recognizes Danny from school, Margaux gets to know him when he nearly hijacks her car in order to escape the scene where he's been checking on an adopted dog (the next day at school, Margaux refers to him as "last night's benign highwayman"). The author plants clues to a transgression by Margaux's gambler father that occurred when she was 10 and that has cracked the foundation of her family. She finds refuge with Danny and the intelligent, somewhat hardened yet steadfast aunt who acts as his guardian. Readers may feel that the author does not dig quite deeply enough into some of the other significant relationships here, yet he remains satisfyingly true to the leading characters. Their witty repartee will thrill word lovers, even if the book itself comes to somewhat of an abrupt close. Ages 14-up. (Sept.)