More like related short stories than chapters in a conventional novel, the nine sections in this ``yearbook'' attempt dramatic portraits of seniors at a high school in Missouri. Stacey's summer at a Massachusetts playhouse has left her stagestruck, impatient for a chance to begin an acting career. Her best friend, Nicole, has more immediate concerns, such as how to attract guys with the panache shown by Lee, arbiter of the Oakview social scene. Jamie, hoping for eventual stardom, considers his rock band more important than anything else, including friendship. Tara, who's perpetually ignored by her battling parents and indifferent schoolmates, believes that a baby--fathered by a student she hardly knows--will ease her loneliness. Dawn tries to compensate for her father's deserting her terrific mother, in the process forfeiting her own social life. Snapshot glimpses suffice; Asher ( Everything Is Not Enough ) focuses on these characters just long enough for the reader to recognize them. Despite some formulaic or otherwise bland patches, the writing here is confident and essentially sound. Ages 12-up. (July)
The ALAN Review
- Diana Mitchell
Senior year-that long-awaited time. Now that it's here, Stacey yearns for the year to be over; Brenda feels the meaninglessness of it all; Jamie wonders what is in store for him when the year ends. The confusions and joys of senior year are captured in this story that shows nine seniors who touch each others' lives. Friends fall in love, divorce refocuses lives, the pain of alcoholism and abuse surfaces, and characters realize that they ultimately must shape their own future. High-schoolers who are interested in looking at relationships and in thinking about their senior year will like this book.
School Library Journal
Gr 8 - 12-- An appealing collection of nine contemporary, compelling stories. Each one focuses on a dilemma faced by a graduating senior at a high school in a small town that is, itself, coming of age. Every piece stands alone, but all share characters who drift in and out of one another's lives during their final months of school. The cumulative effect is an accurate portrayal of high school, with concerns and activities that give Asher's work the texture of a yearbook, or a stroll through the halls at lunch time. YAs will recognize themselves and their classmates in these teenagers who are coping with romances, ambitions, dances, pregnancies, shifting alliances, and parental foibles. The class valedictorian best sums up this nifty volume when he says, ``For better or worse . . . we've touched one another's lives here, on purpose or accidentally, sometimes without even realizing it. We're getting out, but we'll never get completely away.'' Readers will add ``Well done.'' --Doris A. Fong, Benson Polytechnic High School, Portland, OR
Asher looks at that rite of passage, the senior year, as seen through the eyes of nine graduating students at Oakview High in Eli, Missouri. There's Stacey, the aspiring actress; her best friend, Nicole, still hopeful that the class queen will take her under her wing; Walt, the brain who's remedial with girls; Brenda and Caroline, best friends, bound by their weight and nerdiness; and other kids, familiar yet well drawn. Though the stories are interwoven to some degree, that aspect of the book is least successful because it's difficult to remember who's who without a good deal of flipping around. But individually, the stories are quite readable and touch on the usual topics of interest to teens--friendship, love, parents, popularity. High school seniors probably won't get around to reading this, but younger kids will enjoy the taste of the future it offers.