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Hollywood and Maine

Hollywood and Maine

by Allison Whittenberg

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With a new boyfriend, her own room (finally!), and a modeling agency trying to convince her to sign with them, Charmaine Upshaw’s life is just about perfect. But a surprising face appears at the dinner table: ex-con Uncle E. Uncle E skipped town a few months ago after Charmaine’s parents put up $1000 bail, leaving them in a bind that forced her mom to go


With a new boyfriend, her own room (finally!), and a modeling agency trying to convince her to sign with them, Charmaine Upshaw’s life is just about perfect. But a surprising face appears at the dinner table: ex-con Uncle E. Uncle E skipped town a few months ago after Charmaine’s parents put up $1000 bail, leaving them in a bind that forced her mom to go back to work. Mom and Dad seem happy to see Uncle E, and her little live-in cousin Tracy John thinks he’s the greatest thing since sliced bread. But Charmaine is not fooled. Meanwhile, Charmaine struggles in her first romance and ponders the idea of taking Hollywood by storm. Does she have what it takes to see her name in lights? Only if she can survive the 10th grade. . . .

From the Hardcover edition.

Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Lorie Johnson Paldino
Charmaine (Maine) Upshaw, a precocious and funny ninth grader who loves literature and a good classroom debate, is living high: she finally has a real boyfriend (as opposed to her imaginary one last year). Raymond is intelligent and adores her in a syrupy-sweet sort of way. She also is enjoying having a bedroom all to herself to give her much-needed privacy from her pest of a brother and her intrusive (yet darling) young cousin. AND she has been invited to become a student at a modeling agency! Yet everything is upended when her uncle—who jumped bail months before—shows up on her doorstep and moves into her home. Maine is forced from the privacy of her attic bedroom while also being forced to evaluate what is truly important in her life. She does so with humor and insight. Allison Whittenberg's continuing saga of the life of Maine Upshaw will not disappoint readers of the first installment, Sweet Thang. Whittenberg presents a refreshing view of adolescent life in the 1970s. Maine is a self-assured girl with a keen developing sense of racial inequity and a laugh-out-loud sense of humor. Grounded by a loving family with a down-to-earth set of priorities, Maine faces her problems with dignity and grace. Girls of all ethnicities will cheer her on as she forges a place for herself in the world. Reviewer: Lorie Johnson Paldino
Jacqueline Bach
It is January 1976 and Charmaine Upshaw's life is perfect. She's beginning a relationship with Raymond, trying to get into modeling, maybe acting, and starting her second semester of ninth grade. Then her Uncle E, the ex-convict, returns, and her family takes him back in, even though he left Philadelphia several months ago and cost her family the $1,000 they had lent him for bail. Maine finds herself without her own bedroom, on the brink of losing Raymond, and her personal life interfering with classroom discussions. Often humorous and always heartwarming, Whittenberg's follow-up to Sweet Thang captures life in the late 70s from the point of view of a black teenager who lives in a close community and finds herself negotiating with the larger themes in the world—such as redemption, doubt, and acceptance. Reviewer: Jacqueline Bach
School Library Journal

Gr 6-9

This sequel to Sweet Thang (Delacorte, 2006) revisits the strong, supportive African-American Upshaw family. It's 1976, and 14-year-old Charmaine has an attic bedroom all to herself and a polite, smart, and cultured boyfriend, Raymond, who appreciates her beauty (entering her into a modeling contest) while being equally attracted to her brains. It's practically teenage bliss until Mr. Upshaw's musical, ex-con brother turns up. The rest of the family, especially precocious cousin Tracy John, wholeheartedly welcomes him. Initially, Maine distrusts Uncle E due to past indiscretions. Animosity increases when he's given the attic. Dreams of a possible modeling career (and its accompanying fame/wealth) cause a temporary lapse in Maine's judgment. She alienates Raymond, tries her family, and neglects her friends. Fortunately, she remembers who she really is and, after some snooping, realizes that she's misjudged her uncle. Second chances abound. Aside from her model good looks, Whittenberg's protagonist is witty, intelligent, self-possessed, and usually modest. Not infallible, Maine occasionally slips into self-consciousness or self-absorption. Endearingly cheeky, Tracy John is as fleshed out and worldly wise as his cousin. The family's personal trials, triumphs, individual growth, and many personalities are the book's focus and its heart. Zinger dialogue and clever narration promise laughs and an enjoyable read, but some readers might feel compelled to read Sweet Thang for better insight.-Danielle Serra, Cliffside Park Public Library, NJ

Kirkus Reviews
Negotiations involving first love, a potential modeling career and a ne'er-do-well uncle prove challenging for 15-year-old Charmaine (Maine) in this gently humorous second installment about life in the Upshaw family. Employing the same relaxed pace used in 2006's Sweet Thang, Maine's narrative voice is steeped in the social conscience that frames the novel's 1970s setting. There are occasional passages where details may be too nostalgic for current young readers, as when Maine muses that the young Michael Jackson "was asked to be James Brown, Jackie Wilson, and Sam Cooke all rolled into one." Still, Maine's loving exasperation with her brother and little cousin sparkle with life (evoking memories of Lois Lowry's Anastasia and Sam Krupnik), and the wisdom of Maine's parents and peers, richly woven with bits of African-American cultural history, feels true. Though readers need not be familiar with the first offering to enjoy the charm of this one, there are some allusions that will be clearer if they are. (Historical fiction. 10-14)
From the Publisher
Sweet Thang reads a bit like Christopher Paul Curtis’s The Watsons Go to Birmingham—1963 with its frequent shifts from the humorous to the serious and its attention to the details of its historical period.”
—The Horn Book Magazine

From the Hardcover edition.

Product Details

Random House Children's Books
Publication date:
Sold by:
Random House
File size:
2 MB
Age Range:
9 - 12 Years

Meet the Author

Allison Whittenberg lives in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Her first novel, Sweet Thang, was a New York Library Best Book for the Teen Age and a CCBC Choice for 2007.

From the Hardcover edition.

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