From the Publisher
Twist Magazine Why You'll Dig it: Likeable Cyd will seem like one of your buds.
ELLEGIRL Rachel Cohn's first book, Gingerbread, takes the reader on a journey through the mind of Cyd Charisse, a troubled teenager who's trying to find herself. But this is not just Another Teen Novel: It's pretty edgy...
Children's Writer's and Illustrator's Market Cohn's character was inspired by the front of a greeting card given to her by a close friend. "The figure on the card was wearing monster-sized black boots and toting a doll," says Cohn. "She was nothing like other characters I created, but I became a vehicle for who she was instantly."
Kirkus Reviews Cyd Charisse embodies the child/woman nature of adolescence as she tows her doll, Gingerbread, through life.
VOYA Newcomer Cohn's Cyd-isms "sexy-swish hips" and "New Yorkie York" bring to mind the funky vocabulary of Francesca Lia Block's hip heroine, Weetzie Bat....All high school and public libraries should add the irrepressible Cyd to their shelves.
Publishers Weekly [Cyd's] magnetic narrative will keep readers hooked.
School Library Journal Funny and irreverent reading with teen appeal that's right on target.
"The 16-year-old `recovering hellion' (as her stepfather refers to her), who narrates this debut novel, breathes a joie de vivre into this story of her bicoastal family," wrote PW in a starred review. "Her magnetic narrative will keep readers hooked." Ages 14-up. (June) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
To quote from the review of the hardcover in KLIATT, March 2002: Cyd Charisse, age 16, was named for the movie star, and she certainly has sought out drama in her own life: "I will be as wild as I wanna be," she declares. As the book opens, sassy Cyd is living in San Francisco with her mother and stepfather after being kicked out of boarding school. She is involved with a sensitive surfer named Shrimp and working at his brother's beachside café, Java the Hut. She argues ferociously with her mother, and longs to be reunited with her real father, Frank, who she hasn't seen in many years. Her parents finally decide to send Cyd off to New York City to get reacquainted with Frank. He is not quite the warm, welcoming parent of her dreams—he tries to introduce her as his niece, at first—but Cyd does connect with her kind stepbrother Danny and her initially hostile stepsister. She helps out Danny and his gay partner at their café in the Village, and makes a pass at the handsome young driver her father hired for her. She also runs into the boyfriend who was responsible for her leaving the boarding school, and for the abortion she had concealed from her family. In the end, returning to San Francisco, spoiled, naive Cyd has come to understand much more about herself and her family. Told in flip and often funny teenspeak/Californese, this is an engaging tale about a girl coming to terms with her family and her relationships. There are some memorable and warmly drawn characters here, from Sugar Pie, the elderly woman Cyd meets while doing community service, to Danny, Cyd's supportive stepbrother, whose relationship with his lover is sympathetically portrayed. The cover is an eye-catcher, featuring agirl in combat boots carting a stuffed doll. This first novel will appeal to more sophisticated teenage girls with a taste for romance and drama. Some talk of sex and drugs. (An ALA Best Book for YAs). KLIATT Codes: S—Recommended for senior high school students. 2002, Simon & Schuster, Pulse, 172p.,
Sixteen-year-old Cyd Charisse is not the usual perky California beach bunny. "I am not a mall junkie kind of girl who needs to save money for hair clips and glitter makeup and boy band CDs. Excuse me while I go retch at the thought." Back home in San Francisco, after being thrown out of boarding school for sexual indiscretions, Cyd is in hot water with her parents because of her open defiance of their curfew ordinance. Soon she is in lockdown, with only her alter ego, an ancient rag doll named Gingerbread, as company. Tired of her attitude problem, Cyd's mom and stepdad decide to let Cyd's biological father deal with her for awhile. They ship her off to New York City for the summer. There, she meets her dad and two stepsibs for the first time and really begins to think about the meaning of family and how she fits in. By vacation's end, Cyd has been through the emotional wringer: She has confessed a secret abortion to her mom, made peace with her father, and discovered that one does not have to like other family members to love them. Newcomer Cohn's Cyd-isms—"sexy-swish hips" and "New Yorkie York"—bring to mind the funky vocabulary of Francesca Lia Block's hip heroine, Weetzie Bat. Fans of the famous platinum flattop also will enjoy this funny, bicoastal story of dysfunctional family love. All high school and public libraries should add the irrepressible Cyd to their shelves. VOYA CODES: 4Q 4P J S (Better than most, marred only by occasional lapses; Broad general YA appeal; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9; Senior High, defined as grades 10 to 12). 2002, Simon & Schuster, 176p,
Tossed out of an expensive boarding school for being caught in a sexual situation with a fellow student, sixteen-year-old Cyd is back in San Francisco living with her mother and stepfather and younger step-siblings. Life becomes bearable again when Cyd gets a job making coffee drinks at Java the Hut and meets a new boyfriend, a surfer named Shrimp. Things take a turn for the worse, though, when she gets grounded for staying out late with Shrimp and then he breaks up with her. Her mother sends her to New York City to live with her biological father, whom Cyd met only once when she was five. Getting to know her father is a letdown for Cyd, but she eventually makes new friends with both of her half-siblings. The chance meeting with her old boyfriend from boarding school is the last straw for Cyd, but she finds renewed strength and a budding relationship withof all peopleher mother, to whom she finally confesses she has had an abortion. Cyd, named for movie-star actress Cyd Charisse, is a brassy teenager, filled with vulnerabilities but shielded by a tough exterior. The voice, consistently hip, rings true to life. 2002, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, $15.95. Ages 12 up. Reviewer: Valerie O. Patterson
School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up-According to stepdad, Sid, Cyd Charisse is a "recovering hellion." Kicked out of boarding school, the teen returns home to San Francisco. True to her wild nature and obsession with boys, she does anything to get a rise from her parents. She is grounded in her "puke-princess bedroom" after being caught out overnight again with surfer-boyfriend, Shrimp. Finally, Sid and Nancy send her to bio-dad in NYC. Meeting her real father and family has long been Cyd's dream. Since he was married with children when her mom had an affair with him, he is virtually a stranger to her. When Cyd got in trouble at boarding school and needed money for an abortion though, she called him. He didn't remember Gingerbread, the rag doll he gave her when she was five, but he helped her out. Cyd Charisse sees herself when she meets him 11 years later. She finds excitement working in her gay half-brother's caf as a barista and exploring New York. Confrontations with her older half-sister and brief talks with her father bring Cyd more knowledge about her families on both coasts. Her strong, independent, and kinky personality; realistic take on life; and quick mind make her a memorable character. Cohn works wonders with snappy dialogue, up-to-the-minute language, and funny repartee. Her contemporary voice is tempered with humor and deals with problems across two generations. Funny and irreverent reading with teen appeal that's right on target.-Gail Richmond, San Diego Unified Schools, CA Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Cyd Charisse embodies the child/woman nature of adolescence as she tows her doll, Gingerbread, through life. Gingerbread was given to her by her father the last and almost only time she saw him. Readers of Francesca Lia Block will find a familiar style here, and yet a Block character is only what Cyd could wish to be. Kicked out of boarding school, Cyd returns to San Francisco failing to tell her mother about an abortion or how unsupportive the boy involved has been. She's got some sophistication, but it mainly hides her pain and allows her to live in a dreamy fantasy world with a new boyfriend. Shrimp and his brother Wallace run a coffee stand and Cyd goes to work, but mild lusting for Wallace muddies the situation. Once Mom grounds her for violating curfew, Cyd's hipness fades somewhat. Loving parents, her mother and stepfather decide to see what her birth father in New York can do for her since his wife has recently died. The considerably older half brother welcomes Cyd, and he and his partner put her to work at their bistro. Half-sister Lisbeth has a harder time accepting this unconventional member to the family, and Dad remains distant. Cyd's appreciation of her family back home grows, as does her confidence that she is lovable and valuable. Cohn is obviously familiar with the personality of both cities and has done her homework as to trendy dialogue, although it sometimes overwhelms characters and events. In spite of the relentlessly hip talk and trimmings, this is all utterly familiar, much like the spicy yet humble dessert of the title. (Fiction. YA)
"Why You'll Dig it: Likeable Cyd will seem like one of your buds."
"[This] is not just Another Teen Novel: It's pretty edgy."
New Orleans Times-Picayune
"Any teen who loves wit and language is going to devour this."
"Like its heroine, this coming-of-age story is smart-mouthed and testy."
starred review BCCB
*"Cyd's interactions with other characters in the colorful cast are the stuff of authenticity: her and her mother's volatile relationship is one of the most realistically depcited in YA literature, while her sweet, affectionate connection to hernewfound older brother shows Cyd at her best. This is a sparkling authorial debut featuring a memorable YA heroine."
"[Teens] will recognize themselves in Cyd's complex, believable mix of arch and vulnerable, self-aware and self-destructive, and also in her struggle between freedom and the protective safety of family."
Read an Excerpt
My so-called parents hate my boyfriend, Shrimp. I'm not sure they even believe he is my boyfriend. They take one look at his five-foot-five, surfer-shirt-wearin', baggy-jeans-slouchin', Pop Tart-eatin', spiked-hair-head self and you can just see confusion firebombs exploding in their heads, like they are thinking, Oh no, Cyd Charisse, that young man is not your homes.
Dig this: He is.
At least Shrimp always remembers to call my mother "Mrs." instead of just grunting in her direction, like most guys my age do. And no parent could deny that hanging out with Shrimp is an improvement over Justin, my ex, from my old prep school. Justin got me into trouble, big time. I'm so over the Justin stage.
Not like Sid and Nancy care much. I have done my parents the favor of becoming more or less invisible.
Sid, my father, calls me a "recovering hellion." Sid's actually my stepfather. You could say I hardly know my real father. I met him at an airport once when I was five. He was tall and skinny and had ink black hair, like me. We ate lunch in a smoky pub at the Dallas-Fort Worth airport. I did not like my hamburger so my real dad opened his briefcase and offered me a piece of homemade gingerbread he had wrapped in tinfoil.
He bought me a brown rag doll at the airport gift shop. The cashier had made the doll herself. She said she had kept the doll hidden under her cash register waiting for just the right little girl. My real dad gave the cashier a one-hundred-dollar bill and told her to keep the change. I named my dolly Gingerbread.
Nancy and I were on our way to San Francisco to become Sid's family. My real dad was on his way back to New York, to his real wife and family. They don't know about me.
I'm fairly sure that my real dad's wife would not mind that I make scissors cuts on my arms and then pick the scabs. His real wife probably makes fresh gingerbread every day and writes Things To Do lists and does her own grocery shopping instead of having a housekeeper and a driver do everything for her, like Nancy does.
Nancy only met Justin once, at the expulsion hearing. The headmaster told her Justin and I were caught fooling around in a room loaded with Jack Daniels and prescription bottles. In flagrante delicto were the words the headmaster used. I failed Latin.
Nancy said Justin was from a "wonderful Connecticut family" and how could I shame her and Sid like that. It was Justin who was selling the ecstasy out of his dorm room, not me. It was Justin who said he pulled out in time. Sid and Nancy never knew about that part.
Nancy came into my room one night after I returned home to San Francisco. Sid and my younger half-sibs were at Father's Night at their French immersion school. "I hope your friends use condoms," Nancy said, which was funny because she knows Shrimp is my only friend. She threw a box of Trojans onto the lace-trimmed four-poster bed that I hate. Shrimp is a safety boy, he takes care of those things. If it had been Shrimp back in boarding school, he would have come with me to the clinic.
"Can I have a futon on the floor instead of this stupid princess bed?" I said. The thought of my mother even knowing about contraception, much less doling it out, was beyond comprehension, much less discussion.
Nancy sighed. Sighing is what she does instead of eating. "I paid ten thousand dollars to redecorate this room while you were at boarding school. No, you may not, Cyd Charisse."
Everybody in my family calls me by my first and middle name since my dad's name is pronounced the same as my first name. When she was twenty years old and pregnant with me, Nancy thought she would eventually marry my real dad. She named me after this dancer-actress from like a million years ago who starred in this movie that Nancy and real-dad saw on their first date, before she found out he had a whole other life. The real Cyd Charisse is like this incredibly beautiful sex goddess. I am okay looking. I could never be superhuman sexy like the real Cyd Charisse. I mean there is only room for so much grace and beauty in one person named Cyd Charisse, not two.
Nancy fished a pack of Butter Rum LifeSavers out of her designer jacket and held them out to me. "Want a piece of my dinner?"
Copyright © 2002 by Rachel Cohn