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Hillary Siegal and her footloose parents live on the road. To Hillary, each move is an escape from becoming one of the "sleepwalkers" she's seen at all of the seventeen schools she's attended. But then the Siegals land in Ashwater, California. And this time, they're staying put. Seventh grade isn't going to be a typical year for Hillary. What can she do if she can't run?
"Undercurrents of humor, and characters who develop surprising complexities, give this bittersweet tale unusual depth."
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The daughter of happily itinerant parents gets a world-altering taste of settled life in this engagingly cast story. Having spent her entire life on the road, nine months in one place looks like prison to Hillary, but her parents have agreed to house-sit for a family on sabbatical. Treating the experience as a test of character imposed by unseen watchers, she abandons her usual self- imposed isolation and deliberately sets out to make connections in her new (and her 18th) school, agreeing to tutor Brian, a student with Attention Deficit Disorder, in math, joining the circle of class queen Serena, and forming an unexpectedly deep friendship with Cass, a thoughtful loner. Readers will see past her pretense that it's all just role-playing to the lonely, sensitive child within, and will be further attracted by the quiet competence with which she faces each challenge, whether it be managing the family finances for her feckless parents or mending fences with a jealous classmate. The roots this new life strikes in Hillary are deep and quick, but Koss (The Trouble With Zinny Weston, 1998) gives the tale an unpredictable twist when Cass indignantly rejects her grandparents' offer of a permanent home, then pays the price when she and her parents are suddenly forced to pull up stakes. Undercurrents of humor, and characters who seem typecast initially but develop surprising complexities, give this bittersweet tale unusual depth. (Fiction. 10-13) -- Copyright ©1999, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.From School Library Journal:
Grade 4-6-Hillary, 12, has dealt with change all her life. Her free-spirited parents lead a semi-nomadic life traveling between craft fairs, so she has attended 17 different schools. After becoming conditioned to this peripatetic lifestyle, she is dismayed to learn that her family will be spending the next nine months in Ashwater, CA. From her travels, Hillary has learned that every school has its class clown, popular clique, brainy outcast, etc., and it doesn't take long to distinguish these types in her new class. What's different about Ashwater, though, is that these people become more and more real to Hillary as time passes. Amazingly, she becomes friends with both Serena, the queen bee of the in-crowd, and Cass, the smart girl who is a true kindred spirit. Koss's strong characterizations make the relationships believable, and the story of how Hillary manages to stay friendly with such different people is a valuable model for young readers, who often feel forced to choose between certain groups. In the end, Hillary moves from isolation to making connections; by so doing, her friendships bloom and she becomes a stronger, more self-assured person.
Robin L. Gibson, Muskingum County Library System, Zanesville, OH
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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