"With honesty, wit, and a wild first-person narrative, this first novel breaks boundaries in YA fiction with a story about college freshman Ellie Yelinsky and her search for art, love, sex, and meaning." --Booklist, starred Booklist, ALA, Starred Review
"Readers will enjoy the presentation of a strong female who puts finding herself and moving ahead with her talent ahead of maintaining a false pretense to her boyfriend or to the professor who is unwilling to acknowledge the dedication and improvement she has shown." SLJ School Library Journal
Set at a prestigious (fictional) art school, this first novel revolves around a talented college freshman wrestling with her first relationship. Ellie, the narrator, is first met while dirty-dancing with the Devil, in a scenario quickly revealed as a costume party; a "sneering Elvis" joins them to set up a threesome ("Soon we were all making out"). This provocative opener only partially prefigures Frank's themes. Nate, the student dressed as the Devil, and Ellie make love a week or so later; shortly afterward, Ellie learns that Nate has an "open relationship" with a longtime girlfriend, plus a reputation for womanizing. Meanwhile, she acclimates to student life and deals with her parents, former hippies who openly discuss their youthful drug-taking and who have no idea which of Ellie's mother's many partners was Ellie's biological father. Frank proves most successful in characterizing Ellie as a painter the discussion of art is unusually specific, knowledgeable and convincing. The author also skillfully depicts the zeitgeist among the students, most of whom lionize the showy performance artists (among them a teacher who leads his class in taunting Ellie for her "old fart" pursuit of representational art). But Frank fumbles in linking Ellie's family dynamics to her attempts to come to terms with Nate. The parents are much less developed than the other characters, and this aspect of the story never quite jells. On balance, however, the many truthful moments and the strong portrayal of the heroine will likely compel readers' attention. Ages 14-up . (Aug.) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Ellie, a talented artist, has just started as a student at the New England College of Art and Design when she meets sexy Nate at the Artists' Ball. She loses her virginity to him and they begin an affair, brought together by physical attraction and by the coincidence that neither of them knew their real fathers. Nate's father died when he was very young. Ellie has been raised by her hippie mother, who confesses that she has no idea who Ellie's father was, and the man she married, with whom Ellie struggles to connect: he means well, but his idea of connection is to send her off to college with a bag of marijuana. Ellie falls hard for Nate, but soon realizes that he's not the faithful kind, which causes her much anguish. Eventually, she breaks off the relationship. Meanwhile, an enthusiastic, excitable teacher helps her develop her artistic talent; she starts to make other friends at school; and she reaches out to her stepfather, by inviting him to share art that is meaningful to her. This first novel by a freelance writer and artist is enhanced by some little b/w drawings accompanying chapter headings. It feels real and honest in its depiction of Ellie's initial euphoria over her relationship with Nate, both the physical closeness and the emotional connection, and then her growing discomfort with his infidelity and selfishness. Her artistic journey is intriguing too, as she encounters different teaching styles and develops new techniques for depicting what she sees and feels. Fellow art students in particular will enjoy reading about her experiences. Category: Hardcover Fiction. KLIATT Codes: SA—Recommended for senior high school students, advanced students, and adults. 2002, HoughtonMifflin, 264p. illus.,
Paula Rohrlick; KLIATT
This novel presents a somewhat surrealistic view of a college girl's experience away from home. Because she is an art student, readers won't mind some surrealism (especially the beginning). Although Ellie seems a bit naïve about some things, such as Nate's "infidelity" and a classmate's blatant crush on her, she is easy to like and relate to. This book is fast paced (I was able to read it in a day), and the drawings in the beginning of most chapters make the book all the better to enjoy. VOYA CODES: 4Q 4P S (Better than most, marred only by occasional lapses; Broad general YA appeal; Senior High, defined as grades 10 to 12). 2002, Houghton Mifflin, 240p,
Anna Yu (aka Anna Banana), Teen Reviewer <%ISBN%>0618104399
Gr 9 Up-Ellie's first year at art school starts with her first party, complete with a three-way dance and kiss with a costumed Devil and Elvis. She finds herself having sex for the first time with Nate, the Devil, a week after the event. As they continue on together, Ellie soon discovers that he has an "open relationship" with an old girlfriend, as well as a number of suspect encounters with other female students. She balances this questionable relationship, her classes, and a strange background in which her parents, former hippies who named her Ladybug, try to convince her to smoke pot to relax and are not sure of the identity of her biological father. The book shines when Ellie is discovering and devoting herself to art, making her seem even more serious when compared to the silly and showy professor and performance artists who are adored by her fellow students. Readers will enjoy the presentation of a strong female who puts finding herself and moving ahead with her talent ahead of maintaining a false pretense to her boyfriend or to the professor who is unwilling to acknowledge the dedication and improvement she has shown.-Betsy Fraser, Calgary Public Library, Canada Copyright 2003 Cahners Business Information.