Multiple award-winning author, Jacqueline Seewald, has taught creative, expository and technical writing at Rutgers University as well as high school English. She also worked as both an academic librarian and an educational media specialist. Fifteen of her books of fiction have been published to critical praise including young adult novels STACY’S SONG, CLAIRE’S CURSE, WHERE IS ROBERT? Recently released in hardcover is her co-authored YA mystery THE THIRD EYE. Her short stories, poems, essays, reviews
The Devil And Danna Websterby Jacqueline Seewald
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Danna Webster, a shy fifteen-year-old high school student with a talent for art, is studying in the school library with her friend Joyce when a dark, handsome boy starts flirting with her. Rich bad boy, Kevin Moore, continues to pursue her. But Danna is pulled in another direction by Gar Hansen, football quarterback and honor student who has been assigned as Danna's math tutor. What is Kevin's connection to the eerie stranger who offers Danna everything she could ever want in life--in return for her soul?
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Danna Webster is, in many ways, a typical fifteen year-old girl. While she lives with her hard-working mother and disabled stepfather in the poorest section of town, at school she rubs elbows with students who are wealthier and more popular. A gifted art student, Danna has a hard time with geometry, so she is assigned an honor society student tutor, handsome Adonis and adored quarterback—Gar Hansen whom Danna considers, at first, to be a stuck-up snob. After his patient tutoring, she comes to appreciate Gar’s solid character, his ambitions and loyalty to his family. One day while in the school library with her friend, Joyce, Danna notices a dark and handsome boy staring at her. Later, he offers her a ride in his flashy red car, which she refuses; she doesn’t know if she is ready for his fast come-on. When he forces his own introduction, Danna learns he is senior Kevin Moore, new to town and brother of beautiful, poised and popular Caron Moore, obviously from a world of privilege. And he is interested enough in Danna to pursue her, despite her refusals for his attention. Caron appears to have her eye on Gar. As Kevin gradually wears down Danna’s resistance to dating him, she learns from various sources that he is a lady-killer, a wild driver and a drinker who has been kicked out of several prep schools. Kevin himself admits to being the black sheep of the family, as a way to gain attention from his father, now divorced from his mother. Danna’s friends and parents are dubious about Kevin’s character. Nonetheless, Danna finds his attention charming. Kevin calls Danna his angel while, ironically, pressuring her for sex. At Caron’s birthday party, Danna notices a man in a black suit, who looks and acts oddly out of place. The man tells her that he is the one responsible for the Moore family’s wealth and that he can make her rich, famous and a great artist. Did Danna really see this dark person or was he an extension of the devil image in literature she has been studying at school? Before he disappears, the man tells Danna Kevin will explain. Danna realizes she must decide for herself whom to trust. Author Jacqueline Seewald poses several important moral questions for her teen readers. Are wealth and privilege alone enough to provide fulfilment? How important are family influence and love? Should teens weigh the possibility of negative consequences when they form alliances with risky peers? What role does self-respect play in character building? Danna Webster struggles with her moral choices—the angel on one shoulder and the devil on the other. A discovery about her own identity, the support of solid friends and family and her realization that the “privileged” life is a mirage all help Danna find what is important, what is real. I highly recommend this fast-paced and absorbing novel for young teens as they seek to sort out their own lives.
Great story for young teens! This fast-paced coming-of-age story is told from the perspective of a shy, sweet-natured girl who is confronted for the first time with choices about sex, easy money, and prestige. With so many temptations, even the devil fits right in. Fifteen-year-old Danna Webster lives in a house of secrets, and at the heart of it all is Lori, her mom’s younger sister. Her mom never wants to talk about Lori or Danna’s dad, who are both dead. She can’t ask her stepfather about them or anything else; his constant put-downs convince Danna he doesn’t love her. Her family takes pride in making ends meet on her stepdad’s disability checks and her mom’s income from working long hours as a minimum-wage cashier. Danna doesn’t tell them she has bigger dreams—she wants to go college and become a graphic designer. But first she must pass geometry. Danna’s distracted when Kevin, a handsome, rich new guy at school with a bad reputation, takes an interest in her. Things get even more complicated when the popular football quarterback is assigned as her math tutor. Danna discovers neither guy is what he first seems to be. She faces an unexpected choice at a party when a strange man who already knows her name offers to make Danna a great artist. A school assignment to compare two short stories about making pacts with the devil takes on a whole different meaning when the man claims to be responsible for the success Kevin’s family enjoys. After Danna discovers her aunt’s diary, she finally gets her mom to talk about Lori. The truth overwhelms Danna, until she finds the one person with whom she can share the family secret. Author Jacqueline Seewald subtly tells the story so the truth, when it’s finally revealed, is powerful enough to bring tears to your eyes. While this story will resonate with readers of any age, I highly recommend the book to young teenagers who could use some positive examples as they take their first steps toward creating lives of their own.
Read With Surf and Sand --Within the first few pages Seewald takes you back to the confusing days of high school. Yet does it with a style that holds the interest not just of the young adults for whom the book was written, but also those for whom being called a ‘senior’ has a different meaning. The Devil and Danna Webster takes place on the Jersey Shore. Those who have visited or spent time there recognize their favorite town whether it be Asbury Park or Seaside, Atlantic Highlands or the Wildwoods. Seewald captures the area where every town has a Sal’s pizzeria and couples walk in the moonlight. Suitable for a summer read on the beach, Seewald manages the tension, keeping your interest when you’re sunning on the shore, without submerging you when you want to take a dip in the ocean. Read The Devil and Danna Webster to return to earlier times and to see whether ‘first love’ is a ‘forever love.’ And whether Danna will succumb to the lure of the dark-haired devil, Kevin Moore, or the angelic blond Gar Hansen.
THE DEVIL AND DANNA WEBSTER is the evocative coming-of-age tale of a sensitive high school sophomore who lives with her mother and disabled stepfather in a poor section of town—in a house full of secrets. She is a talented artist, but weak in geometry, and somewhat reluctantly accepts tutoring from the handsome football quarterback, Gar Hansen. A nice “catch” indeed, for he is kind and thoughtful, and her parents adore him. But then the exuberant womanizer, Kevin Moore, interrupts her routine life with bold talk and a shiny red Corvette--a gift from his rich, dysfunctional parents. And worse: his snobby sister Caron is trying to pull Gar into her sensual net. Kevin, with his “carpe diem” philosophy, is a wild fellow: aggressive, yet full of charm and persuasion that makes it hard for Danna to refuse him. Author Seewald draws a full- bodied portrait of Kevin, complete with flaws that, oddly, render him even more complex and interesting to this reader than the steadfast Gar. Through a commissioned portrait Danna paints of his sister, Kevin actually takes her a step closer to becoming a professional artist. It is to Seewald’s credit that she doesn’t portray Danna as a victim or Kevin as a total predator--but shows us both the devil and the angel in him. But those who have read Milton’s Paradise Lost know how seductive a devil can be! The title itself, a riff on the famous tale of “The Devil and Daniel Webster,” is nicely woven into the novel with the occasional appearance of a tall dark man, a sort of double for Kevin who tries to seduce Danna, and make her “sell her soul” to him. So Danna, herself a descendent of Webster, must try to face the creepy fellow down. Readers will admire the way she does this! Seewald moves deftly back and forth between friends, boyfriends, and parental concerns—trying to overcome a rift between herself and her grumbly stepfather--and we watch her slowly realize who she is as a person. A dramatic discovery in the attic about her past adds to the identity process, and helps her to think independently—and to choose wisely. Her “brainy” friend Joyce helps, too, and shows the reader how important a true friend can be. On the whole, this is a well written, beautifully paced novel with lots of clever dialogue, excellent in-depth characterization—as well as sweet bits of romance.