An honest narrator grounds this sweet story about two sisters learning to accept their differences-and help each other grow up. The sisters, who live in an exclusive Atlanta neighborhood, both attend "the most prestigious prep school in the South," but while narrator Carly thrives on being an individual, Anna's pretty face and developing body earn her a different kind of attention. Carly stands up for her softer sister often (telling their mom to stop treating curvy Anna like she is fat, for example). She realizes, though, that she is jealous of Anna's looks even though "I'm her big sister, who should be above such things." As the sisters get different friends and interests, Carly spends less time with Anna, and they find themselves saying mean things and betraying each other (Anna even hooks up with Carly's crush). The conclusion gets emotionally overwrought with a teary scene in which the sisters turn into "a puddle of ridiculous-ness," but mostly readers will find both the characters and their problems genuine. Ages 12-up. (May)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
A must-read for fans of Sarah Dessen and Justina Chen Headley.
With humor and empathy, Myracle explores the hazardous trails of evolving friendships, unfair teachers, and devastating crushes-and the elastic bonds of sisterhood that outlast them all.
VOYA - Dotsy Harland
Carly, an earthy, confident teen, is becoming exasperated by her younger sister, Anna, who is attracting plenty of male attention with her newly developing body. Now that they attend the same private high school in their upper-class Atlanta suburb, tensions begin to rise. Anna drifts closer to Carly's oldest friend, Peyton, who is spending more and more time with popular students whom Carly considers shallow. When Carly's parents go on an overnight trip, Peyton convinces Carly to have a party by telling her that Cole, the boy Carly has fallen for, will be coming. Carly is furious when a mob of unruly students shows up with alcohol, and her emotions erupt when she finds Cole seducing Anna. The turning point for Carly is when, distracted by the turmoil, she accidently causes the death of a wild duckling that is in her care. Carly recognizes her love for and responsibility toward her sister, sees clearly who her real friends are, and ends up with the right guy. In spite of a slow beginning, this novel is immensely satisfying. Myracle is a master at exploring the topics of sexuality, religion, and racism without going too far. Carly is a delight, but the novel's peripheral characters tend to be one dimensional. Carly and Anna's parents, although loving, seem strangely detached from their children's lives. Nevertheless this coming-of-age story is a wrenching, humorous, and triumphant celebration of family dynamics and friendship. Female readers, especially, will thoroughly enjoy it. Reviewer: Dotsy Harland
Children's Literature - Jean Boreen
After Carly spends the summer in an outdoor enrichment program in rural Tennessee, she finds that her present life in Buckhead, an Atlanta suburb, a bit stifling. Not at all comfortable with the societal expectations of her private prep school, Carly determines that she is going to assert her individuality regardless of what the girls at school, her "fashionista" mother, and status-seeking father say; but when Carly's sister, Anna, becomes the freshman poster girl for "hot" and draws the attention of both the popular girls as well as the majority of the boys at the school, Carly is confused and concerned. To cover her bewilderment, she lets people know that she does not want Anna to grow up too quickly, but Carly also finds herself struggling with a level of jealousy about the attention Anna is getting from everyone they know. Carly comes to realize that Anna is scared and often offended by the attention she is receiving, both at school and from her parents, who flit from her father's encouragement of her sexuality to her mom's determination that she is gaining weight too quickly and could be ruining her fantastic new figure. As Carly comes to terms with what Anna is facing, she finds that she does have the maturity to both help her sister and define herself as the type of young woman with whom she can be comfortable. This is Myracle's best book, in my opinion, as she really takes the time to develop Carly into a three-dimensional character. Reviewer: Jean Boreen, Ph.D.
School Library Journal
Gr 8–10—This paean to sisters is flat-out wonderful, full of emotion and bittersweet teenage confusion. It tackles faith, racism, sexism, and the tug-of-war close siblings can engage in while establishing their identity. Free-spirited sophomore Carly reacts against the consumerism of the girls' upscale Atlanta neighborhood while she enjoys what it has to offer. Freshman Anna relies on Carly at their prestigious private school, Holy Redeemer. She has developed large breasts that grant her unwanted attention. Carly helps her sister to face down a bullying coach, and the girls support each other against their über-critical father. Everyone but Carly can see that dependable Roger could be her "love boodle," but she has a crush on Cole, who has "soulful eyes." A sleepover when the girls' parents are away develops into an out-of-control party, and the sisters' trust in one another frays when Carla finds Anna with Cole. Ultimately, however, their bond strengthens. Language is realistic with some swearing. These are girls with hot tempers, bruised egos, and great love for one another. Readers will love them, too.—Tina Zubak, Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, PA
Predictable territory is made richer by a large cast of multidimensional characters in this work of contemporary realism set in an affluent Atlanta community. Older sister Carly returns from wilderness camp to discover that her little sister Anna has morphed in a matter of weeks from little girl to hottie, just in time for the start of her freshman year at the same Christian private school Carly attends. In first-person narration, Carly styles herself as a free spirit, listening to music from the late '60s and wearing retro, hippie clothes. This spawns growing pains between the two girls, as Carly becomes increasingly critical of the image-consciousness that dominates their family life and the social sphere of their peers, even as she falls deep into a crush on a boy based on little more than surface-level traits. Myracle's spot-on portrayal of a teen stuck in the throes of defining herself based on what she is not rather than what she is allows plenty of room for Carly to muse, grow and change. (Fiction. 12 & up)