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Budge Wilson.
Toronto, ON: General Paperbacks, 1991.
123pp., paper, $5.95.
ISBN o-m6 7348-2. CIP.

Grades 7-8 / Ages 12-13

Reviewed by Valerie Nielsen.

Volume 20 Number 3
1992 May

In Wilson's latest book, Lorinda, now fourteen, receives a diary of her own from James, her perceptive eleven-year-old brother. She welcomes the diary as "my safety valve, my confidential friend, the storehouse of all my secrets" and admits that she would like the diary to turn her into a "Great Writer."

It isn't long after her grandfather comes to stay with her family that he begins to display the self-centredness and hypochondria that make him a trial for the whole family. Lorinda's diary entries give the reader a sharp insight into her character and show her grappling with many of the classic problems of early adolescence: how to balance a new friendship and her commitment to basketball, how to react to the romantic interest displayed by her old friend Duncan, how to deal with a lonely and demanding grandfather.

Unfortunately, Lorinda's voice is never entirely convincing as a fourteen-year-old. Too often, the sudden insights into her own and her grandfather's behaviour seem to be those of a counsellor or wise adult. Lorinda's success as a psychologist and Grandpa's succinct diagnosis of his problems are too pat, as is the ensuing change in his behaviour and attitude, which fits too neatly into the climax of the story.

Lorinda's assessment of herself at the moment she discovers that she has bewitched not only her long-time chum Duncan but also his best friend George is also wide of the mark: "What on earth could those two boys see in this lanky stringbean of a person with all her long, black, straight uninteresting hair?" Lorinda asks in her diary. The number of junior high school girls who would love to be a stringbean with long black hair is legion. The author is behind the times in her understanding of the typical female adolescent's view of attractiveness.

Lorinda's Diary will be enjoyed by middle grade girls who have followed the "Blue Harbour" series, but it will not have much appeal to more sophisticated young adults. A better choice for them would be Wilson's wonderfully compelling stories of adolescents, The Leaving (House of Anansi Press, 1990).

Valerie Nielsen, Acadia Junior High School,Winnipeg, MB.
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