You Bet Your Life: A Novel (A Charlotte Zolotow Book)

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9780060215163: You Bet Your Life: A Novel (A Charlotte Zolotow Book)

While working as an intern on a popular television comedy show produced in Chicago, seventeen-year-old Bess tries to come to terms with the loss of her mother, who committed suicide six months earlier.

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From Publishers Weekly:

Nearly half a year after her mother's suicide, high school senior Bess begins a long-anticipated internship on The Les Comack Show , a Chicago-based TV program. Influenced by her mother's enthusiasm for classic American comedians, Bess has always dreamed of becoming a comedy writer; now that she is apprenticed to seasoned professionals Georgia and Nate, her goal seems much closer. In the months that follow, Bess learns plenty about show business, writes a one-liner for the show, embarks on a precarious romance and even sashays into an unexpected career as a comedienne, performing in a local club with Elliot, the TV station's elevator operator and aspiring comic. Exhilarating as these triumphs are, they are also tinged wth sadness: each achievement reminds Bess of her mother's absence. Though the plotting is sometimes a bit pat (compassionate Georgia quickly and conveniently becomes a surrogate mother for Bess), on the whole Deaver ( Say Goodnight, Gracie ) offers sound perceptions of the odd mix of sorrow, longing and moving on that characterizes mourning. Brisk wisecracks dominate the snappy first-person narration, but when Bess's grief breaks through, her voice is spine-tingling: "When my mother died I stopped being special. It cut across me like a brutal cold wind, this feeling I had--and still have sometimes." Agreeable characters and a believable show-biz setting combine for a read that is speedy yet substantial. Ages 12-up.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Kirkus Reviews:

The author of Say Goodnight, Gracie (1988) explores similar themes while depicting a young comedian coming to terms with her mother's suicide. Like Deaver's earlier protagonists, Bess is involved in the performing arts. She's an after-school intern for a talk show; she's also drafted by Elliot, an aspiring comic who runs the building's elevator, as his partner for occasional appearances. Both are gifted--their witty repartee, on stage and off, is a delight--but Bess has trouble trusting any new relationship ever since her loving, irresistibly funny mother's death, which Bess experienced as desertion. Again, Deaver's supporting characters are uniformly wise and sympathetic: Dad, who's working through his own grief; Bess's boss, who becomes her confidante and mother-surrogate, but discreetly holds back until Bess is ready for closer ties; even Mom, who's presented as an exemplary parent who lost her battle with clinical depression. The result is a tad unrealistic, if heartwarming; but it allows Deaver to focus on Bess's loss and sense of betrayal and its resolution. Skillfully, she develops Mom's character and Bess's close relationship with her through conversations, memories, and Bess's troubled, diary-like letters to her, interspersed through the book. An unusually subtle and likable portrait of a talented, thoughtful young woman weathering with distinction the aftershocks of a trauma. (Fiction. 12+) -- Copyright 1993, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

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