Margaux with an X

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Overview

Margaux, known as a "tough chick" at her Los Angeles high school, makes a connection with Danny, who, like her, struggles with the emotional impact of family violence and abuse.

Margaux, known as a "tough chick" at her Los Angeles high school, makes a connection with Danny, who, like her, struggles with the emotional impact of family violence and abuse.

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Cambridge, MA 2004 Hard cover New. Glued binding. Paper over boards. With dust jacket. 165 p. Intended for a young adult/teenage audience. Intended for a juvenile audience.

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Overview

Margaux, known as a "tough chick" at her Los Angeles high school, makes a connection with Danny, who, like her, struggles with the emotional impact of family violence and abuse.

Margaux, known as a "tough chick" at her Los Angeles high school, makes a connection with Danny, who, like her, struggles with the emotional impact of family violence and abuse.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
"Koertge creates fully realized characters-in the form of gorgeous Margaux and scruffy Danny," wrote PW. "Their witty repartee will thrill word lovers." Ages 14-up. (Sept.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
Margaux Wilcox is 17, a senior at King High School in Arcadia, California, and beautiful. So beautiful that her beauty is the only thing people see when they look at her; so beautiful that boys want to own her and display her like a trophy; so beautiful that her father used her to pay off a gambling debt, letting a man photograph her in her underwear when she was 10 years old. Margaux's father is a professional gambler, her mother a professional shopper—Margaux learned to read, she tells us, from mail-order catalogs and the Daily Racing Form. Her best friend, Sara, focuses all her energy on popularity, the party scene, the hottest guys. No wonder that Margaux sees the world as a ghoulish place—perfume saleswomen at the mall are "pale as Dracula's perpetual fiancees;" the hot, L.A. sun, setting through a blanket of smog, is "the color of some internal organ." But then Danny crashes into her world, a boy who looks wrong, who dresses wrong, who works at an animal shelter after school and doesn't care about parties or Margaux's beauty. He's much more interested in her fierce intelligence, her ability to use words like "antipodal" and "persiflage," her encyclopedic reading. And slowly, Margaux begins to see a different world where people genuinely care for each other and have goals bigger than the next race, the next sale or the next hot guy. This new vision of how life can be gives Margaux hope, a new compassion for herself and girls like her, and finally, the courage to confront her parents and seek something better for herself. This is a powerful story that cuts to the raw bones of teenage emotion. And it is made more powerful still by Koertge's gripping, masterful use oflanguage, tone and metaphor. For many teenagers, taking this harrowing journey with Margaux may help them find the courage and compassion they need to navigate through their own troubling lives. 2004, Candlewick Press, Ages 14 up.
—Barbara Carroll Roberts
KLIATT
Koertge, author of Stoner & Spaz (reviewed in KLIATT in May 2002) and other YA novels, presents another unlikely high school pair here: popular, beautiful Margaux, and skinny, idealistic Danny. Margaux, gorgeous and sad, in love with words, reminds me of some of Francesca Lia Block's heroines, and like them Margaux lives in L.A. Egged on by her friend Sara, she teases boys and tries to keep away from her shopaholic mother and gambler father, who don't seem to love her at all. Her father even let someone to whom he owed money take photos of her in her underwear when she was younger, and Margaux hates him for it. Danny, meanwhile, was beaten by his father, and now lives with his wry but loving aunt, who has multiple sclerosis. Margaux first meets Danny when he's on the run: he works for the Humane Society checking up on dog adoptions, and not everyone appreciates his check-ups. Margaux is intrigued by him and joins him in his work, and they become friends. Danny's kind heart draws Margaux to him, and in the end she leaves her parents' home and moves in with Danny and his aunt. This isn't a romance, in the end, but a tale of two young people struggling to put the past behind them and forge new paths for themselves. Margaux and Danny have a chaste but intriguing relationship, and their plights and clever banter will draw readers into this well-written novel. KLIATT Codes: SA—Recommended for senior high school students, advanced students, and adults. 2004, Candlewick Press, 176p., Ages 15 to adult.
—Paula Rohrlick
KLIATT - Paula Rohrlick
To quote the review of the hardcover in KLIATT, September 2004: Koertge, author of Stoner & Spaz (reviewed in KLIATT in May 2002) and other YA novels, presents another unlikely high school pair here: popular, beautiful Margaux, and skinny, idealistic Danny. Margaux, gorgeous and sad, in love with words, reminds me of some of Francesca Lia Block's heroines, and like them Margaux lives in L.A. Egged on by her friend Sara, she teases boys and tries to keep away from her shopaholic mother and gambler father, who don't seem to love her at all. Her father even let someone to whom he owed money take photos of her in her underwear when she was younger, and Margaux hates him for it. Danny, meanwhile, was beaten by his father, and now lives with his wry but loving aunt, who has multiple sclerosis. Margaux first meets Danny when he's on the run: he works for the Humane Society checking up on dog adoptions, and not everyone appreciates his check-ups. Margaux is intrigued by him and joins him in his work, and they become friends. Danny's kind heart draws Margaux to him, and in the end she leaves her parents' home and moves in with Danny and his aunt. This isn't a romance, in the end, but a tale of two young people struggling to put the past behind them and forge new paths for themselves. Margaux and Danny have a chaste but intriguing relationship, and their plights and clever banter will draw readers into this well-written novel. (An ALA Best Book for YAs.)
School Library Journal
Gr 8 Up-Margaux is both beautiful and popular, with the most fashionable clothes and her own red Mustang. Every guy in town wants to date her. Despite living almost every teenager's dream, she is miserable. Her father is a professional gambler, and her emotionally oblivious mother spends her days watching the shopping channel. Powered by her sarcasm and intellectual wit, the teen keeps everyone at bay until she meets Danny, a lanky, poorly dressed school outcast who unwittingly charms her with his own intellect and politeness. It is Danny who gives Margaux the courage to escape her parents and her former shallow self. Although the book is not strong on plot, it excels in character development. It is an intriguing story that constantly provokes readers' curiosity as Margaux and Danny shroud themselves in mystery to escape their own family secrets, which aren't fully exposed until the novel ends. Koertge juxtaposes two seemingly stereotypical characters from opposite ends of the high-school social spectrum, but he destroys all assumptions, giving readers a glimpse into the complexities of the hidden emotional struggles of teenagers. His style is succinct; his language at times is advanced, an accurate reflection of his characters' intellectual capacity.-Leigh Ann Morlock, Vernonia School District, OR Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Margaux, a devastatingly pretty, tightly wound teenage girl who was fundamentally betrayed by her father, uses her acid-laced tongue-along with her best friend Sara-to rule the school. Then she meets Danny Riley, a physically unattractive but kind animal enthusiast who is "a year behind her in school," and "a light year behind her in every other way," especially socially. Intrigued by this decidedly uncool yet self-possessed boy who has no interest in kneeling at her altar, Margaux begins helping him check up on newly adopted shelter animals, and learns that he is not only scarred from a past trauma, but lives with a beloved aunt who is sick and deteriorating. Gradually, they begin to connect, developing an unlikely yet believable friendship. Defying expectations, Koertge has written a story that is unusual for teens in that it's not tied up with a bow, provides no easy answers, and runs the gamut from tart to tender. Despite some hard-to-buy scenes, Margaux's story ends on a hopeful note, demonstrating the remarkable resiliency of the human spirit. (Fiction. YA)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780763624019
  • Publisher: Candlewick Press
  • Publication date: 9/28/2004
  • Pages: 176
  • Age range: 14 years
  • Lexile: 580L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.13 (w) x 7.13 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Ron Koertge is the author of many prize-winning novels for teens, including STONER & SPAZ, winner of the PEN Literary Award, THE BRIMSTONE JOURNALS, winner of the Kentucky Bluegrass Award, and most recently, SHAKESPEARE BATS CLEANUP. "MARGAUX WITH AN X started as a short story, but the heroine wouldn't let me alone," he says. "A short story wasn't enough for her. Oh, no. She had a story to tell, and she wanted a whole novel to tell it in." Ron Koertge teaches in the MFA in Writing for Children program at Vermont College.

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Read an Excerpt



Margaux with an X




By Ron Koertge


Candlewick



Copyright © 2004

Ron Koertge

All right reserved.


ISBN: 0763624012



Anything to get out of that apartment. Away from her mother, the two TVs, the Home Shopping Network. Margaux abandons homework, heads for bustling, smog-shrouded, gridlocked Arcadia, which is somehow named after a pastoral region of ancient Greece.

She wants to be around people; she wants to be alone. Sara's not answering the phone: that's bad. Or good. Or both.

The drive is okay: A.C. on high (it's torrid in Los Angeles, with the usual muslin-yellow sky), radio up, some gratifying amiable / envious / admiring / lubricious glances. At the mall, she has to park at the top of a new structure, following a ramp so circuitous it's like an inner ear. Is she going to emerge under the invisible stars on Level 5, blue level, or get lost inside some enormous aural labyrinth? Who would ever find her if she did?

Not her mother -- Honey, you know I hate to drive.

Not her father -- Can this wait? The third race is about to go off.

Not Sara -- Call me back, okay? I'm talking to Brad.

She's no more than locked the Mustang when a girl darts out from behind an SUV. The darting, much less the spectrally thin girl on this corporate darkling plain stacked five stories high, gives Margaux the willies. It seems like an inkling of something. A big inkling if that's possible. But an inkling of what?

"It's not smart for a single gal to be alone in anelevator. Let's ride down together," says the wraith in pants that are probably size one string bean. And strappy little shoes, also white. A white top. Tight. Very tight. So she's all wrapped up. A sexy little mummy.

Inside, "Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head." Margaux's new friend goes to the farthest corner. Instinctively Margaux stands in front of her. She likes this -- protecting somebody, taking care. She could do it for a living: Guardian. Champion. Duenna of the Parking Structure. Maybe wear a mask and cape. And when she got old, join a Wiccan coven and bay at the moon.

She tries a little of her specialty -- conversation meant to baffle: "Don't you think it's odd that it's crowded in Arcadia? I mean, from what? Too many shepherds?"

The starveling regards her suspiciously. "Which high school do you go to?"

"It's my last year at King. Why?"

"People from King are always weird."

The elevator doors open on a burnished world. Lustrous counters, dazzling displays, the very floor transplendent. Air is greenhouse damp with samples from the purveyors of Dior, all of them pale as Dracula's perpetual fiancées.

Margaux leads the way out of the elevator. Their elevator.

"You're okay now," she says. "Look: people everywhere."

"Thanks. Thanks a lot. I didn't mean what I said about you guys."

"We weird Kings?"

"Sorry. Really."

Margaux watches her go. She (whoever she is) hasn't got a purse or a wallet. She doesn't want to buy anything. She just wants to be in the store. Wants to pause empty-handed by a cardboard promo for this month's fragrant rage: Dark Stranger. Which shows a coarse but sensitive, roughly tender atheist, one gloved hand beside the throttle. For fourteen bucks, a villain in a bottle. Those guys. Sara's type. And hers sometimes, because Sara said so.

Margaux considers her shopping options: no way is she trying on clothes, because that means walking into the maze of cubicles where some woman behind a half-drawn curtain stares into a three-way mirror and weeps because her flesh seems to be melting.

And she doesn't feel like stealing or doing that other thing she and Sara sometimes do, which is--

Up rushes a zealous salesperson. "Are you finding everything you need?"

Ah, if only that were possible. To find everything she needs. But what is that exactly? And if she knew what it was, could she find it in a mall?

Margaux moves a few hangers around, holds up a thing or two, and scowls. Whatever she left home for, it isn't another blouse. She settles for the exit.

This time she shares the elevator with two couples. The husbands gaze at Margaux; the wives glare at the husbands. She turns to the girls, not two years older than she.

"Is there anyplace else to shop?" she asks. "This place stinks."

The wives glance at each other. They shake their heads together, as if they'd practiced.

"I'm not from here." Even a little lie makes Margaux feel better.


Continues...




Excerpted from Margaux with an X
by Ron Koertge
Copyright © 2004 by Ron Koertge.
Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.


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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 12 )
Rating Distribution

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Sort by: Showing all of 12 Customer Reviews
  • Posted May 30, 2009

    hmm

    I really loved the Margaux and Danny parts and I wanted more but this book is pretty short.
    I feel really mixed about this book because... For one, the big climax scene is anything but. I didn't feel like the author really built up the emotion. The secret is one that could be a shocker, but the way it comes out is kind of disappointing. For another, I think the author only scratched the surface of the characters. All of them seem really 1d or 2d, including the main character.
    Overall, it's an okay book. I think Danny or Evie are the best characters and I loved Margaux and Danny.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted November 4, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    Reviewed by Mark Frye, author and reviewer for TeensReadToo.com

    If STONER AND SPAZ pushed the envelope, then MARGAUX WITH AN X set the envelope on fire and tossed it from a window. This engaging and fun read by Ron Koertge presents two more likeable, quirky, and sardonic main characters who don't fit in and stop trying to. <BR/><BR/>But it's not an edgy or controversial book full of salacious and scandalous details about Margaux and Danny, two teen misfits. This book is impossible to put down due to Koertge's omniscient narrator, who guides the reader through the lives of two teens who are scarred by their parents. The narrator's voice is snarky and intelligent (Dictionary, anyone? What DOES persiflage mean, anyway?) and it's blended with Margaux's and Danny's, lending the novel a feeling of wholeness. Koertge clearly knows what it's like to be an outsider. In less capable hands, the blending of voices used in MARGAUX WITH AN X would fall flat and appear amateurish. But Koertge succeeds masterfully; the impression left on the reader is that Danny and Margaux are two parts of the same puzzle, and the narrator knows how to fit them in place because he's worked the puzzle before. <BR/><BR/>The main characters do not "complete" each other. There is no romantic sizzle. Instead, theirs is a relationship necessary to start their lives over again, without the shallow expectations of their peers in their SoCal high school environment. Danny's friendly but his awkwardness or disinterest in Margaux sexually makes him appealing to her. Although he may seem contrived to some oversexed readers, it is an unstated fact that his father's abusive nurturing has affected him in a variety of ways, both good and bad. Margaux's good looks draw men to her, a fact she resents due to her own sad past. By keeping these two on a platonic but loving level, Koertge lays the groundwork for a believable, happy ending to a compelling novel. <BR/><BR/>Highly recommended.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 2, 2008

    jamie...

    I kind of liked this book. At the beginning, it was hard to follow and the author just skipped around. Once I got interested in it, it became really good. I just didn't like that Marguax acted one way because Sara wanted her to or why her mom wasn't mad about what her dad did. She didn't act like she cared about Marguax at all. The actual story is interesting though.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 29, 2007

    Pointless

    At first I bought the book because it sounded really good, but when I finished it I was so disappointed! The summary for the book made it sound really good but it was so pointless, I wasted my money on this book.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 23, 2007

    Courtesy of Teens Read Too

    If STONER AND SPAZ pushed the envelope, then MARGAUX WITH AN X set the envelope on fire and tossed it from a window. This engaging and fun read by Ron Koertge presents two more likeable, quirky, and sardonic main characters who don't fit in and stop trying to. But it's not an edgy or controversial book full of salacious and scandalous details about Margaux and Danny, two teen misfits. This book is impossible to put down due to Koertge's omniscient narrator, who guides the reader through the lives of two teens who are scarred by their parents. The narrator's voice is snarky and intelligent (Dictionary, anyone? What DOES persiflage mean, anyway?) and it's blended with Margaux's and Danny's, lending the novel a feeling of wholeness. Koertge clearly knows what it's like to be an outsider. In less capable hands, the blending of voices used in MARGAUX WITH AN X would fall flat and appear amateurish. But Koertge succeeds masterfully the impression left on the reader is that Danny and Margaux are two parts of the same puzzle, and the narrator knows how to fit them in place because he's worked the puzzle before. The main characters do not ¿complete¿ each other. There is no romantic sizzle. Instead, theirs is a relationship necessary to start their lives over again, without the shallow expectations of their peers in their SoCal high school environment. Danny's friendly but his awkwardness or disinterest in Margaux sexually makes him appealing to her. Although he may seem contrived to some oversexed readers, it is an unstated fact that his father's abusive nurturing has affected him in a variety of ways, both good and bad. Margaux's good looks draw men to her, a fact she resents due to her own sad past. By keeping these two on a platonic but loving level, Koertge lays the groundwork for a believable, happy ending to a compelling novel. Highly recommended. **Reviewed by: Marke Frye, author and reviewer

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 26, 2007

    This book is great

    I really liked this book. Some people wont like it but i did.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 8, 2007

    A reviewer

    THis book isnt THAT bad. it won't touch you or anything. And it's pretty interesting. But its a decent book. Read it. But don't expect it to be the best

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 15, 2005

    Not a bad book.

    The book is not long enough to be disappointing, I am not a fast reader compared to most, and I finished the book in one day. It's different, but in a good way, and has unique humor.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 22, 2005

    Glad I'm done with it

    I was very dissapointed by this book. I read alot and normally would recommend the books I read, but not this one. This book moved at a very slow pace, that was very boring. The ending didn't make a statement, it was just there. However, I was so relieved when I came to the ending, because the book was finally over.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 27, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted June 24, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted February 17, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

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