Overnight Sensation

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More About This Book

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
The weight Kerry Dunbar lost before entering her senior year returns in the form of a heavy psychological burden when she's quickly noticed by a popular though reckless crowd at school. At first their attention thrills her. One night, after drinking lots of beer, the group--over Kerry's weak protestations--breaks into her unpopular friend Madeline Abraham's garage; one guy scrawls anti-Semitic slurs on its walls. Sparks from a cigarette lighter inadvertently ignite the wooden structure, but the scrawls survive the fire. Johnson ( One of the Boys ) covers a lot of ground in what is ultimately an overblown, repetitious novel; aside from the tired popular-kids-are-shallow theme and the lessons against anti-Semitism, it touches didactically on AIDS awareness, birth control, recycling and animal rights. Although Kerry's first-person narrative is on key and the dialogue rarely falters, the reader will find it hard to care much for such a self-absorbed and foolish protagonist. Ages 12-up. (Mar.)
School Library Journal
Gr 7 Up-Kerry, 17, has learned how to pull the right ``look'' together over the summer. The first to notice is Billy, a ``Jockus Americanus,'' who introduces her to his popular, partying crowd. Feeling out of touch with her divorced parents, the young woman works hard to overcome her inhibitions and fit in with her new friends. This distances her from her old friend Madeline Abrahams, a socially and politically conscious, studious type. When Kerry's new group decides to party in the Abrahams's garage while the family is away, Kerry feels powerless to stop them or the anti-Semitic vandalism that results. Fire destroys both the garage and a project that might have won Madeline a college scholarship. Consumed with guilt, Kerry finds that her life becomes nightmarish. Johnson explores some of the same themes begun in One of the Boys (Atheneum, 1992). Although that book is better than this one, Overnight Sensation will appeal to YAs who recognize the seductive peer pressures that he so vividly describes. Messages about safe sex, prejudice, and the environment abound, but the author uses what could have been merely sensational plot elements to form a more meaningful story.-Cindy Darling Codell, Clark Middle School, Winchester, KY
Merri Monks
After spending the summer with her college-age cousin, Kerry Dunbar returns, a changed young woman, to her divorced mom and her senior year in high school. Leaving her best friend Madeline behind, Kerry becomes part of a popular drinking group. A steadily changing value system and strong desire for peer approval lead Kerry to join her new friends when they break into Madeline's garage. Kerry watches while two of them scrawl anti-Semitic insults on the wall, then set the garage on fire. Forced to hide their vandalism, the group is irrevocably bonded by their terrible secret. Johnson deftly handles Kerry's complex relationships--with each of her parents, her peer group members, several boys who offer varying levels of romantic interest, and Madeline, her wronged, long-time friend. Using incidents familiar to young adults, the author creates an engrossing story of a young woman's moral deterioration and subsequent redemption. Johnson incorporates big issues--racism, anti-Semitism, teenage alcoholism, and the necessity of using condoms to prevent HIV transmission--and makes them very believable parts of his story. Exciting cover art will help attract readers.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780689318313
  • Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers
  • Publication date: 3/15/1994
  • Edition description: 1st ed
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 240
  • Age range: 12 years

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