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Paula Handler

Toronto, Kids Can Press, 1989.133pp, paper, $4.95
ISBN 0-921103-67-0. CIP

Grades 7 to 9/Ages 12 to 14
Reviewed by Michael Freeman.

Volume 18 Number 1
1990 January

Annie Lang, fourteen, has problems adjusting to her new experiences at a private girls school. Very much aware that she is only there by virtue of a full academic scholarship, she feels self-conscious surrounded by the wealth and social ease of her classmates. Her life, by contrast, is distinguished mainly by an ongoing struggle for sufficient food and clothing; she and her single-parent mother live in a decaying walk-up apartment.

When the overbearing mother of one of her schoolmates forces an expensive but unsuitable jacket upon her, Annie impulsively returns the jacket to the store for a refund. She uses the money to buy gifts for her friends and family, but finds the corrupting influence of ready cash difficult to deal with. A moral crisis ensues when the woman unexpectedly demands the return of the jacket; Annie is forced to reassess her sense of values.

This first novel captures the essence of the social and emotional problems of the young teenager. The story is fast paced, easy to read, and presents ethical principles without preaching.

Highly recommended.

Michael Freeman, Bathurst Heights S.S., North York, Ont.
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