Warner (Sort of Forever) relays another moving story of loss and healing. An eerily quiet scene opens the story: a shocked 11-year-old discovers herself alone in the middle of the desert at night. Soon the girl, Janey, realizes that she and her five-year-old sister, YoYo, were thrown from the family car after a crash caused by a drunk driver; the girls' parents were killed. YoYo has escaped unscathed, physically, but Janey is injured and will need extensive plastic surgery to reverse the serious damage to her face. The girls are placed with their only relatives, their grandfather and his not terribly sympathetic younger sister, Aunt Baby, who share a house in California, far away from the girls' Arizona home. While there are other insightful, equally well-written novels with a similar premise, Warner's offers a twist Aunt Baby (who Janey overhears angrily telling a social worker, "If I'd wanted kids, I would have had them") aggressively pursues a civil lawsuit against the driver, with the aim of getting "compensation." While Aunt Baby claims, "This isn't about the money," the issue further complicates the grieving Janey's already conflicted feelings. Embarrassed and guilty that her grandfather can no longer afford to retire, she also knows that the court case is, in fact, about money. Although the resolution is just slightly too neat, it is also heartbreaking. Readers will be gripped. Ages 9-12. (Sept.) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Gr 5-8-In the instant her family's car is hit by a drunken driver, a large part of 12-year-old Janey's world is lost: her parents, her pretty face, her Arizona home, and her two best friends. She and her five-year-old sister are moved to California where their grandfather and great-aunt, Baby, attempt to pull together the remaining pieces of their shattered family. Told from Janey's perspective, the story explores the complex emotions and relationships of her new situation. She is furious with her aunt, who seems more interested in suing the offending driver than in her losses; she aches for her grandfather, who must continue to work to support them rather than retire; she grieves over her bandaged, burned face, although she is reassured that it can be repaired surgically; and she rejects the overtures of her friends in Arizona "-to get this breakup thing over with." Her healing is encouraged by an empathetic doctor, but it is Janey who takes the first steps that begin to reframe her world as she begins to look through the lens of love rather than pain. Warner develops her characters with a steady and practiced hand, using Janey's inner monologues and dialogue between characters effectively. The plot moves steadily forward from the opening traumatic accident scene without dwelling on the sensational aspects. Both the characters and their sometimes rocky relationships are believable, and readers will cheer as Janey begins to emerge from the horror. The final chapter, her memory of the moments before the crash, is poignant, and recalls for her the foundation of love on which she will be able to build a new life.-Lee Bock, Glenbrook Elementary School, Pulaski, WI Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
It's a miracle that Janey, 12, and her sister YoYo, 5, survive when the drunken woman driver hits their car in the desert and kills both of their parents. YoYo is unharmed, but Janey's face is severely injured and will require plastic surgery when healed. The girls go to live with Grandpa and Aunt Baby in California to lives that are totally changed. As Janey worries about losing her best friends, YoYo forgetting their parents and reverting to being a baby, and Aunt Baby's determination to sue the driver for big money, she struggles to cope with her own emotional and physical healing. She's afraid that if she cries, that will somehow make it true that her Mom and Dad died. A trip back to Flagstaff to visit their graves unlocks Janey's grief as her two best friends ask questions that prompt her to recall what her parents said to her in the car before the crash. A preface ends the story with a flashback to that fateful trip. Emotional and realistic, Warner's (Sister Split, not reviewed, etc.) sensibility and voice of young teens in distress is always genuine, touching a painful subject with a compassionate hand. (Fiction. 9-12)