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Hargrave, Lynda.

Toronto, Overlea House, 1987. 207pp. paper, $3.95, ISBN 0-7172-2265-9. CIP

Grades 7 to 10
Reviewed by Maryleah Otto

Volume 16 Number 4
1988 July

Life's not easy for Jenny Parker, the fifteen-year-old protagonist of this melodramatic teen-age novel. Her lack of a boyfriend and her ambition to be an opera star make her a misfit at school. Her mentally handicapped brother, Dave, is an embarrassment to her although she loves him dearly. Her parents' marriage is on the verge of failure.

The one bright spot in all this is her success in being chosen to play the leading lady in a school musical. She is also happy to discover that Ritchie, the leading man, wants to be her boyfriend. But then a family holiday turns into a nightmare when Dave suddenly falls ill and dies before his parents can return. Torn by grief and remorse, her mother blames both Jenny and the father for Dave's death because the mother hadn't wanted to leave him.

Immediately after the funeral, Jenny's father leaves home for good, while her mother withdraws into her sorrow. Angry and rejected, Jenny breaks up with Ritchie and tries to forget her problems at a drunken party where she is almost raped by a boy she considered a good friend. Shocked back to reality, Jenny's mother turns her attention to her daughter and decides to devote her energy to doing volunteer work for the handicapped in the Special Olympics. And of course, Jenny and Ritchie make up.

Lynda Hargrave is the pseudonym of Susan Bowden, who has written historical romances for adults. This is her first YA novel. Unfortunately, the writing style is marred by endless clichés; the plot is overloaded with soap-opera events; the characters are thinly sketched with nothing to set them apart as unique individuals; and the ending is too pat.

Adolescent readers will almost certainly be girls whose taste runs to problem novels with just a hint of sex and a happy ending.

Maryleah Otto, St. Thomas, Ont.
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