Unfinished Portrait of Jessica

Unfinished Portrait of Jessica

by Richard Peck
     
 

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When Jessica's parents divorce and her father leaves, Jessica decides that the best way to punish her mother is to retreat to her room, a shrine to her glamorous traveling photographer dad.

Then Jessica's mother offers to let her visit her father in Mexico for the holidays, at the fabulous house of her father's uncle Lucius, a famous painter. Jessica is thrilled

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Overview

When Jessica's parents divorce and her father leaves, Jessica decides that the best way to punish her mother is to retreat to her room, a shrine to her glamorous traveling photographer dad.

Then Jessica's mother offers to let her visit her father in Mexico for the holidays, at the fabulous house of her father's uncle Lucius, a famous painter. Jessica is thrilled.

Once there, she falls under the spell of Lucius's home, and his Christmas guests, Brooke and Tony, who are college age. Together the three young people race around Acapulco in an old Jeep, swim, and go dancing. It's paradise. Except for dad. Here in paradise he's not the father Jessica dreamed of at all....

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
After her father leaves the family, Jessica becomes numb and resentful. She scorns her mother and longs for the company of her father. At Christmas, Jessica's dream seems to come true: she is sent to Mexico to visit her father. Once there, Jessica must come to terms with the truth about her unreliable yet charismatic parent. She also admits that her mother is not the drab washout she believes her to be, but is in fact a well-known romance novelist. The ease and assurance with which Peck describes the particulars of Jessica's life make her a convicing and sympathetic protagonist. There are moments when the plot seems a bit pat--such as Jessica's discovery that her favorite escapist reading was written by her mother. For the most part, however, Peck--known for his sensitive portrayals of teenagers and their concerns--succeeds in charting the bittersweet journey from a childhood filled with wishful thinking to a more clearsighted adulthood. Ages 12-up. (Nov.)
School Library Journal
Gr 7-10-- Jessica idolizes her handsome, photographer father, and is devastated by her parents' divorce. Blaming her mother entirely, she hides in her room--until a holiday visit with her father in Mexico forces her to see the situation more clearly. The story itself does not hold many surprises. Jessica quickly discovers that her father's boyishness is really immaturity, and that his easy charm often disguises his lack of responsibility. She finds that her mother's career as a writer is not as boring as she imagines, and that her mother is the parent upon whom she can rely. Peck's writing, however, makes this novel worth reading. In Acapulco, Jessica and her father stay with his uncle, Lucius Pirie, a famous artist. The description of Mexico and Pirie's works are richly textured. The presence of an art student as another guest gives Peck the opportunity to discuss several art terms and techniques. The characters are also exceptionally well drawn; Jessica as evolving, still unfinished, but with a great deal of potential; and her parents, first as she sees them, then as they really are. Peck employs a somber tone in this quiet, internal story, very different from the lightly suspenseful one he uses in Voices After Midnight (Delacorte, 1989). While this may not be his most exciting work, it is well crafted and intellectually satisfying. --Lucinda Snyder Whitehurst, County of Henrico Public Library--Fairfield Area Lib . , Richmond, VA

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780440218869
Publisher:
Random House Children's Books
Publication date:
09/01/1993
Pages:
176
Product dimensions:
4.16(w) x 6.73(h) x 0.52(d)
Lexile:
780L (what's this?)
Age Range:
12 - 15 Years

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