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Under the Mermaid Angel

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Overview

Thirteen-year-old Jesse leads a pretty boring  life in just about the most boring place in the  universe -- otherwise known as Ida, Texas. She cannot  forget the death of her baby brother seven years ago,  and how she just couldn't pray for him when he was  sick. She never talks about it though, not even to  her best friend, which is something she doesn't  have, anyway. But all that changes when Roxanne  moves into the trailer next ...
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Under the Mermaid Angel

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Overview

Thirteen-year-old Jesse leads a pretty boring  life in just about the most boring place in the  universe -- otherwise known as Ida, Texas. She cannot  forget the death of her baby brother seven years ago,  and how she just couldn't pray for him when he was  sick. She never talks about it though, not even to  her best friend, which is something she doesn't  have, anyway. But all that changes when Roxanne  moves into the trailer next door. Thirty years old,  with her fake fur coat, wild red hair, and romantic  notions, Roxanne is a revelation to Jesse. Why has  she moved to Ida, of all places? Their growing  friendship will change Jesse's life, giving her back  a vision of hope beyond the mundane world around  her.

From the Hardcover edition.

Through an unusual friendship with her thirty-one-year-old neighbor in a Texas trailer park, thirteen-year-old Jesse learns that what's inside a person is more important than what's outside.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
A flamboyant, 30-year-old redhead adds spark to a 13-year-old girl's life in a Texas trailer park in this "intermittently witty, often strained first novel," said PW. Ages 12-up. (May)
Children's Literature - Jyotsna Sreenivasan
Thirteen-year-old Jessie Cowan, an intelligent girl who lives in a small, rural Texas town, feels guilty about the death of her baby brother years ago. When 31-year-old Roxanne moves in next door, she and Jessie become friends. Jessie finds out Roxanne's secret: that thirteen years ago Roxanne gave up a baby for adoption, and that baby is now a teenager. Jessie soon guesses that Roxanne's baby is the annoying, vulgar Franklin Harris. Roxanne concocts an elaborate plan so she can hug Franklin, but on the night of the event, Roxanne disappears. Instead, Jessie and Franklin become friends. The characters are complex and compelling, and they draw readers into their lives. This 168-page novel is rich with possibilities, and could easily be twice as long.
The ALAN Review - Judy Beckman
Thirteen-year-old Jesse feels rotten about her life. Her dirt-colored hair is thin as a duck's behind. The family is squashed into a run-down trailer where privacy is impossible. Her refusal to pray for her sick brother probably caused his death. Her life changes suddenly when thirty-year-old Roxanne moves into the trailer park. Jesse's parents object to Roxanne's Liberty Bell chest tattoo, her bizarre clothing, and her age; but Jesse looks more deeply. Roxanne teaches Jesse to see beyond their poverty and to place emphasis on "heart words" and actions. Through Roxanne's own grief-driven search for the son she gave away at birth, Jesse learns that letting go of hurts doesn't mean letting go of love. Martha Moore's fast-paced novel draws down-home, off-the-shoulder folks with whom middle-school readers will laugh and cry.
School Library Journal
Gr 6-8-Stuffed in a trailer park in Ida, Texas, with two parents and three younger siblings, Jesse, 13, is surrounded by the warm tumult of family life but is too much in touch with an icy core of loneliness. Things seem better when she finds a first best friend in Roxanne, a flashy woman who has moved into the neighboring trailer. Jesse tearfully confides in her that she is sure her refusal to pray for her baby brother's recovery caused his death, and Roxanne talks of her two tragic marriages, of a baby she put up for adoption. Her greatest longing is to see this child, who turns out to be Jesse's very own worst enemy, Franklin, a.k.a. Frankenstein. When Roxanne decides to hold a party in the town's wax museum to honor its owner's departure for a nursing home (and thereby wrangle a dance with her unknowing son), Jesse just doesn't see how she can persuade bratty Franklin to attend. Moore paints an indecorous backroads America in which it seems reasonable enough to hang a mermaid angel above a Last Supper tableau. It is a place in which meager and garish possessions can symbolize great moments of heart; a place peopled with wonderfully flavored, idiosyncratic characters and a small town that finds itself alternately attracted to and repulsed by physical deformity. Through it all, Roxanne reassures Jesse that there are angels everywhere, but we just can't see them. Moore tells a sensitive coming-of-age story tinged with both guilt and humor; but more importantly, she offers expiation.-Cindy Darling Codell, Clark Middle School, Winchester, KY
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780375895074
  • Publisher: Random House Children's Books
  • Publication date: 11/6/2001
  • Series: Laurel-Leaf Books
  • Pages: 176
  • Sales rank: 1,333,496
  • Age range: 12 years
  • Product dimensions: 5.51 (w) x 8.51 (h) x 0.50 (d)

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