Many teenagers obsess about sex and Penelope (Lopi) Yeager, the 16-year-old girl at the center of Jahn-Clough's (Country Girl, City Girl) latest novel, is certainly among them. Having grown up with her young, single mother Viv's revolving door of boyfriends, Lopi isn't exactly surprised by her own one-track mind ("I am so seriously screwed up. Never happy, never satisfied. Never alone, never together. I want so much"). Additionally, Lopi is burdened by her younger brother's death: her parents mistakenly ran over him when she was six years old, and she still believes it was her fault they divorced. Viv's current love interest is Josh; he's 14 years her junior and has all but moved in, making Lopi feel even more out of place. To hasten her independence, she strives to graduate high school a year early and leave her mother's watch behind (and to have sex as soon as possible). Although Lopi is able to put into motion the first half of her scheme, she finds the sex part of the equation less straightforward. She fumbles through awkward situations, frantically seeking sex and love, and hopelessly confusing the two. At times, the contrast between her naïve fits of desperation and her mature thought processes can seem too great, and teens may well grow frustrated with her rash and melodramatic behavior. However, Jann-Clough deserves credit for resisting the urge to wrap up Lopi's story too tidily. Ages 14-up. (Apr.)Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Me, Penelopeby Lisa Clough
Sixteen-year-old Penelope Yeager only wants a few things in life: get out of high school, get her driver's license, fall in love, forget what happened ten years ago, and see her mother happy. She’s figured out how to get out of school a year early. If she can figure out the rest, maybe she’ll actually be happy. Unfortunately, the rest isn’t… See more details below
Sixteen-year-old Penelope Yeager only wants a few things in life: get out of high school, get her driver's license, fall in love, forget what happened ten years ago, and see her mother happy. She’s figured out how to get out of school a year early. If she can figure out the rest, maybe she’ll actually be happy. Unfortunately, the rest isn’t nearly as easy.
“Jahn-Clough’s prose is infused with startling flashes of beauty”—Horn Book
"Fast-paced, well-written story."—School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up
Penelope Yeager, 16, has arranged to graduate and head to college a year early to get away from her flirty, immature mother, Viv. When she was six, Lopi's two-year-old brother was run over by her parents' car, and she blames herself. After her parents' divorce, the minimal counseling she received barely helped. Lopi still struggles with her feelings about his death, but she is also preoccupied with finding true love and having sex for the first time. After three unsuccessful romantic encounters, including being put off by her mother's prospective fiancé, she realizes that her friend Toad is "the one." When Viv survives a serious auto accident, she finally talks with Lopi about what happened to her brother and agrees to provide more therapy. Lopi is a realistic character with usual teen worries and the additional burden of overwhelming guilt. As she works through the process of finishing high school, getting accepted into college, making friends, resolving issues with her mother, and finding a boyfriend in Toad, she becomes more self-assured. She begins to overcome her sorrow and appears to be heading toward a happier future. When she and Toad suddenly acknowledge their serious feelings for one another, they quickly hop into bed, but use a condom. Despite the predictable romance, this fast-paced, well-written story will appeal to those who enjoyed Kristen Tracy's Lost It (S & S, 2007) and Marlene Perez's Unexpected Development (Roaring Brook, 2004).
Diane P. TuccilloCopyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
- Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
- Publication date:
- Edition description:
- Sales rank:
- Product dimensions:
- 4.90(w) x 6.90(h) x 0.70(d)
- Age Range:
- 14 Years
Read an Excerpt
My name is Penelope Yeager, Lopi for short. I appear normalnormal for a sixteen-year-old American girl, that is. I live with a single mother who is still young and beautiful, more beautiful than I will ever be. My father left when I was six, after the accident.
He moved across the country and I haven’t seen him since. Viv says he has a new wife and two new children. He’s moved on with a new life. I can’t say I blame him.
Viv, my mother, has moved on by filling her life with activity and people, covering the memory with various substances, both legal and illegal, forcing herself by any means to be happy. I think she is in denial.
I have not moved on.
I look like nothing special. Longish brown hair, a smattering of freckles, thin lips that I wish were fuller, breasts a little larger than I’d like, hips a little narrow, but in general an okay body. I’m nothing to write home about, but I’m nothing freakish either. If I put my hair up in a ponytail I can pass for a lacrosse player, if I leave it stringy I can pass for a druggie, if I put it in pigtails and wear a baggy shirt I can pass for about twelve, and if I puff it up, wear a little makeup, and stick my chest out I can maybe pass for a college student. However, I am none of these things.
Anyway, it’s not my looks or my body that dissatisfies me (most of the time)it’s my thinking. Mainly I can’t stop thinking. Sometimes I want things so badly, all I can do is long for them until I get really, really sad.
I think that my mind must be different from others’. I don’t know how people can be so together, so calm and happy all the time. I don’t believe them. Take my mother, for instance. She appears happy, but how can she be, really? Her life has been full of tragedy.
There are times when I am sitting there reading a book or studying for a math test, watching TV even, and my mind is off in a thousand places. Really what I am doing is trying not to think, but I can’t help it. I think about the future, what I’d rather be doing, what could happen. I think about school and how things have shifted this year, how all I want to do is get out. I think about my friends and how I don’t really have any anymore, except for Toad and that’s changingall we do is bicker like an old married couple, and we’ve never even been boyfriend and girlfriend.
Basically, I think about my life a lot, and sometimes to make my life better, I make things up. I think about how I want someone that I can talk to, really, really talk to. I’d like to see a shrink, but Viv says we can’t afford one and that it’s unnecessary for me, yet she sees one regularly. I saw one once when I was eight, but now Viv thinks I am doing fine. I am good at pretending.
And then there’s sex. A lot of what I think about these days is sex. How to get it, if I want it, who I want it with. They say teenage boys are obsessed, but I think I have them beat hands down. Ha. Hands down, get it? See how my mind works? I have fantasy scenes going on a good part of the time in my head. If I could just find someone to connect withreally deeply connect with, the rest wouldn’t matter so much. If I could only be touched all the way down to my soul, now that would be something.
Meet the Author
Lisa Jahn-Clough has written and illustrated a number of books for young children, including Alicia Has a Bad Day, My Friend and I, Missing Molly, Simon and Molly Plus Hester, and On the Hill, as well as her debut young adult novel Country Girl, City Girl. She is the chair of the illustration program at Maine College of Art and also teaches at the Vermont College Writing for Children and Young Adults program. She lives in Portland, Maine.
and post it to your social network
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
See all customer reviews >