cover image Will You Be My Brussels Sprout?

Will You Be My Brussels Sprout?

Lucy Frank. Holiday House, $15.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-8234-1220-4

Fans of I Am an Artichoke may be in for a disappointment with this sequel: the deadpan wit, vivid characterizations and droll observations of New York people and scenery of Frank's first novel are for the most part absent here. Sarah, the 15-year-old narrator, must juggle her friendship with Emily Friedman, the anorexic girl she'd been hired to help in Artichoke, with her new romance with Emily's older brother, David, and her increasingly time-consuming music lessons-all during Saturday afternoon visits to Manhattan. But the conflict between friendship and love is barely mined and Emily, previously so thoughtfully portrayed, is, like the other characters, brought out of the wings only when it's necessary to move the plot along. Otherwise the inward-focused narrative centers on Sarah's growing interest in the cello and in David. Given Frank's knowledgeable descriptions of specific compositions, music classes and so forth, Sarah's absorption in the cello is easy to understand and even exciting. But the author never fully communicates the reasons for Sarah's attraction to David, who keeps pressuring Sarah to have sex and reacts boorishly when she refuses. All told, a better-than-average tale of first love, but not especially original. Ages 12-up. (Apr.)