Kathleen Leverich The New You

ISBN 13: 9780688160760

The New You

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9780688160760: The New You
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Ever since Abigail transferred to a new school, she has been unable to fit in, lowering her self-esteem, but when she makes friends with three savvy older women and gets a beautiful new haircut, suddenly things begin to look up.

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About the Author:

Kathleen Leverich lives in Sommerville, Massachusettes and in Maine. In Her Own Words...

"Writing began for me as civil war. In 1953 at age five I penciled my first work: "K-a-t-h-y L." These painstakingly printed letters on a white index card earned me borrower's privileges at the Old Greenwich, Connecticut, Perot Memorial Library. With those privileges I planned to trounce my twoand-a-half-years-older sister (a world-class reluctant reader), just once, in something.

"That was my motivation. As an unexpected bonus I found I loved to read. Our house had a wraparound porch, a front stairway and a back, two fireplaces--one standard-sized, one straight from the Hall of the Mountain King. It perched atop the mightiest sledding hill in all of Riverside/Old Greenwich. In peak periods its shingled sprawl contained five of us kids plus Boots the cat, Shan the dog, two parakeets, two Siamese fighting fish--oops!--make that one, plus Mom and Dad.

"I read Grimm's Fairy Tales, Greek myths, Norse legends, and Nancy Drew. I discovered that printing those painstaking marks on paper was not only useful in the Sibling Wars, it was fun. Before I knew it, I was writing stories for school. At first the hope of a good mark served as a carrot. Then I made a discovery. I put pencil to paper, and connections I had never consciously made flowed from graphite onto yellow lined paper. I was astonished.

"At about this time I must have voiced my desire for some straw to spin into gold. My mother's announcement that gold-spinning--and every other form of magical transformation-was "just a story" rocked me to my soles.

"Not long after, Mr. Ives the Sunday School teacher "leveled" with my classmates and me. Behind every miracle lay a grounded-in-science explanation. Aberrant tides had caused the Red Sea to part. Cana's wedding guests had imagined water tasted like wine. This was scandalous news. As I trudged up our steep driveway that day, I thought, Next someone will claim parrots can't talk.

"They mimic," said fifth-grade-teacher Miss Holmes the following Friday. She had paused in her read-aloud of Enid Blyton's Mystery Island to explain. "Yes, the parrot character can speak. But does he understand? No."

"This was the final straw. I made up my mind to show Miss Holmes-Mr. Ives--Mom--everyone, they were dead wrong. Following stints as a University of Southern California film student, a credit checker at a disreputable L. A. loan firm, a Lincoln Center tour guide, a slacker in Almunecar, Spain, as an editor at Cricket magazine, and as Addison-Wesley's children's books editor, that is what I set pencil to paper to do.

"In each book I attempt the same thing: to spin everyday events into the larger-than-life reality I can't prove but know is there. Serious story or comic, that's my aim. I get support in this endeavor from my larger-than-life husband, Walter Lorraine, and hints of a higher consciousness from Nikka, our great-hearted dog.

"I do my writing in the tiny office of our tall house on a teeming street in Greater Metropolitan Boston. And in an equally tiny office in our bright and airy house on a quiet point in Downeast Maine. My gracious older sister swears she reads every word."

From School Library Journal:

Grade 6-8-When 13-year-old Abby moves from the comfortable suburbs to the city with her father and new stepmother, she sees it as a chance to reinvent herself. While shedding her old image, getting an expensive but unsatisfying haircut, and going by her full name, Abigail fails to make a place for herself in her new school and withdraws into a lonely world of fantasy. That longing leads her to the phone book where she finds a listing under "Identities-Original and Replacement." Abigail arrives at The New You only to discover that it is an out-of-business hair salon that three young women are illegally renting. They take her in, give her a haircut and highlights, and then send her back out into the world with what she thinks is her new identity. Upon arriving home and immediately falling asleep, she awakes to find that the whole adventure was a flu-induced fever dream and that her hair has returned to its miserable former style. However, Abigail is so convinced that the experience was real that it gives her something to talk about in school and begins the creation of an identity that she so wanted. The search for self is a common one, and some readers will relate to Abigail's insecurity and complete lack of confidence. However, her feelings toward her stepmother or how she will look inwardly to define her identity from now on are not fully explored. It's too bad she doesn't focus more on her personality than on her hair. A light read that touches on some relevant issues.
Katie O'Dell Madison, Multnomah County Library, Portland, OR
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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