Under the Mermaid Angel

Under the Mermaid Angel

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by Martha A. Moore
     
 

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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

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.

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)
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.
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.
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
Hazel Rochman
Thirteen-year-old Jesse can't understand why glamorous Roxanne has come to live next door in the trailer court in Ida, Texas. To Jesse it's the most boring place in the universe, but 30-year-old Roxanne changes that. With her streaming red hair, stiletto heels, and skintight, sequined T-shirts, Roxanne brings excitement and warm friendship to Jesse as they talk and giggle and paint Flaming Tomato polish on their toenails. The latest winner of the Delacorte Prize for first YA novel beautifully evokes the place and the people, both shabby and extraordinary. Roxanne is the archetypal stranger who comes to town, acts as savior, and leaves. Unfortunately, a heavy didacticism overwhelms the mystery. There's another newcomer in town, Jesse's classmate, who's been badly scarred in a car accident and who's perfectly brave, wise, and strong, always ready to quote from poetry and myth and explain about "mermaid angels. We don't need so many repeated explanations. As Jesse and Roxanne sprawl across the plastic chairs of the laundromat and share their secret griefs, we recognize the wonder in the mundane. The story shows that there are angels everywhere.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780385310000
Publisher:
Bantam Doubleday Dell Books for Young Readers
Publication date:
03/28/1995

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Under the Mermaid Angel 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago