The View from the Top

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Overview

Eighteen-year-old Anabelle's last few months in her coastal hometown are bittersweet. Instead of the quiet precollege summer she expects, Anabelle makes some surprising discoveries about herself as she navigates romantic entanglements and changing friendships. Through shifting points of view in seven interconnected stories, we glimpse the limits of how well her friends really know Anabelle . . . and how little she grasps about the way they see her.

With wry observations and ...

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Overview

Eighteen-year-old Anabelle's last few months in her coastal hometown are bittersweet. Instead of the quiet precollege summer she expects, Anabelle makes some surprising discoveries about herself as she navigates romantic entanglements and changing friendships. Through shifting points of view in seven interconnected stories, we glimpse the limits of how well her friends really know Anabelle . . . and how little she grasps about the way they see her.

With wry observations and quirky humor, critically acclaimed novelist Hillary Frank gives voice and depth to six unique characters whose stories intertwine to form a complete picture of one shared summer.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Echoing the premise of Lynne Rae Perkins's Criss Cross, this wistful novel shows how the lives of smalltown teens, all at crossroads, intersect one summer. The central focus is on recent high school graduate Anabelle, a talented musician who plans to attend Oberlin. Anabelle breaks up with her boyfriend, Matt, but after doing so, decides against pursuing her crush, Jonah, Matt's best friend. Readers are given an inside view of how Anabelle's actions and inactions affect those in her life: Jonah, who goes on to have an affair with Matt's mother; Matt's sister, Lexi, who has secretly been attracted to Anabelle for some time; and fellow musician Tobin, who would like his friendship with Anabelle to take a romantic turn. Delving into the psyches of each of her characters, Frank (I Can't Tell You) relates a slew of missed opportunities ("Should he just grab her and kiss her?" wonders Tobin. "No. He would not be a typical guy"). Those nearing the end of high school will best be able to relate to her intimate exploration of postgraduate ennui, regret, and angst. Ages 14–up. (May)
Booklist
Elegantly written...this quirky love story about falling for yourself first will appeal to teens' hearts and heads.
The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
A perceptive portrayal of a summer that feels like it holds all of life's important changes.
VOYA - Lucy Schall
Anabelle's last summer in Normal before college pulls her into the tumultuous lives of four close friends and a lonely summer tourist. Labeled the "nice" girl, shy Anabelle breaks off with her drinking, pot-smoking first boyfriend because she thinks that the handsome school Romeo likes her. But the "nice" boy in whom she confides her dilemma is her true friend and possible love. The short stories within the frame of this appealing match-up show Anabelle's other choices. The Romeo is seduced by her ex-boyfriend's mother, the boyfriend's sister sees Anabelle as a lesbian partner, and the boyfriend tries to avoid moving on by immersing himself in anti-Anabelle art. The tourist and Anabelle share their fears, as well as a one-night stand. This "radical read" is thought provoking and often painful. The "nice" boy's father preys on women and dates the mother who seduces her son's friend. The lonely summer tourist, who can't see or be seen beyond her weight and wealth, is remembered as a slut. The final chapter ties all the stories together, with good and bad parents sorted out. Anabelle finds her personal strength and a deep friendship that can grow into commitment rather than stop at lust. Like Hillary Frank's Better Than Running at Night (Houghton Mifflin Company, 2002/VOYA February 2003), the characters demonstrate that teens can make positive choices under negative pressures. The stories may hold cross-gender appeal, but will probably interest high school girls the most. Reviewer: Lucy Schall
Children's Literature - Amy McMillan
Annabelle is the only one of her friends leaving the small seaside town of Normal to attend college and she's not sure if she's making the right decision. The first chapter begins before graduation with Annabelle telling her own story and introducing key characters. The ensuing chapters are told from other points of view but show how they've each influenced Annabelle's life. Her boyfriend Matt is controlling, into drugs (which he does with his mother) and ready to settle into small-town life with Annabelle by his side. His best friend Jonah is the bad boy and the player but lately he and Annabelle have begun to develop feelings for each other. He remedies this by making out with Matt's mom. Lexi, Annabelle's BFF and Matt's sister, is also in love with Annabelle but does not know how to tell her. Tobin is not part of their close circle of friends but is crushing on Annabelle as well and even Mary Tyler, a summers-only resident with suicidal tendencies gets a chapter to interact with Annabelle somewhat in passing. Annabelle returns to narrate the final chapter. Resolving to set aside her fear of heights she gets on a Ferris wheel with her father and watches a scene unfold below. Watching helps her realize there is more to life than this small town soap opera and she begins to look forward to her collegiate adventure with a new friend in Tobin who has similar goals. It is an interesting ride very much like the Ferris wheel on the cover, some ups and some downs in the slowly turning plot but with a host of crazy side issues at play, almost to the point of distraction. But fans of One Tree Hill, Gossip Girl and the like are not likely to notice. Reviewer: Amy McMillan
School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up—Set during the summer after senior year, this novel is told from the viewpoints of six very different teens. Five of them, boys and girls, are all infatuated with Annabelle, though it is difficult to tell why. Even when the story shifts to her perspective, she remains a distant character. As Annabelle breaks up with her boyfriend and sorts out her feelings toward two other boys (one a charismatic bad boy and the other a fellow musician who would like to be much more than friends), her needy best friend (who is also attracted to her), and a new acquaintance (a summer visitor to their small seaside town with self-destructive tendencies), emotions run high. Of course, this is still high school, or at least its direct aftermath, so overblown reactions are not out of place. Unfortunately, these scenes frequently feel heavy-handed. This quick read may appeal to melancholy teens heading off to college.—Eliza Langhans, Hatfield Public Library, MA
Kirkus Reviews
Melancholy vignettes of the summer after high school in a dead-end, seaside town called Normal. Loosely centered around sad, insecure Anabelle, one of the few seniors leaving town to pursue college, the narrative perspective shifts among Anabelle's friends and classmates as they each tell their messy, intertwined tales of unrequited and ill-advised love affairs, self-destructive impulses and deepest fears. All of the characters, standing at the crossroads of late adolescence, are miserable as they try to puzzle out who they are and where they're going; their desperation makes for a heavy, albeit developmentally on-target read. Frank doesn't offer any tidy happy endings, but there is cautious optimism, and the story finds its grace in the details: One character's body feels "like a teakettle before it whistles," and another compares the sky and the trees to "a slow silent film" as she floats on her back in the water. (Fiction. 14 & up)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780525422419
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 5/13/2010
  • Pages: 272
  • Age range: 13 - 17 Years
  • Lexile: HL690L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.80 (w) x 8.30 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Hillary Frank is a writer and radio producer based in Philadelphia. Her debut novel, Better Than Running at Night, was named a Top Ten First Youth Novel by Booklist and a Best Book for Young Adults by the American Library Association.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 5 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews
  • Posted October 29, 2010

    L.O.V.E IT!!!!!!!!!!

    i loved this book. i never really read books without them being 400+ pages, i usually just put it down and find the next read. I picked this up and i just couldn't put it down. It was enough to make me laugh and cry. i read it in 4 hours. now whenever i see a interesting book at my library this isn't more that 400 pages i pick it up instantly. it taught me that even the small books can tell a story too. i want a sequel. really want to see what happens between Anabelle and Tobin.

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    Posted August 27, 2010

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    Posted November 12, 2010

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