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About the Author

Sonya Hartnett is the internationally acclaimed author of several novels, including Thursday's Child, winner of the 2002 Guardian Children's Fiction Prize, and Forest, winner of the 2002 Children's Book Council of Australia Book of the Year: Older Readers. In 2003, her adult novel, Of a Boy, won The Age Book of the Year and was shortlisted for the Miles Franklin Award. Sonya lives in Melbourne. She has a dog named Shilo and a cat named Idaho.


Hartnett eviscerates modern suburban life in this blistering story of broken families, buried secrets, and foundering lives. Plum Coyle is almost 14 and terrifically insecure, with two older brothers, Justin and Cydar, who love her but are as emotionally helpless as Plum and their parents. Plum prepares for her 14th birthday, desperately trying to stay afloat with a set of friends who are ready to pounce on the slightest vulnerability, and befriends an older neighbor, Maureen, but cruelties and pain are never far away. Plum's secrets are humiliatingly revealed, as are those of Justin and Maureen. Hartnett's exquisite prose is soaked in visceral descriptions of consumerism, human weakness, and an ugliness that lies just below the surface of everyday life; the closest the book comes to offering a moment of hope is when Cydar, by far the most self-aware character, sacrifices to purchase Plum the birthday gift she wants more than anything-a television. It would be easy to dismiss Hartnett's story as misanthropic, yet it's not so much contemptuous of humanity than of what it has become. Ages 14-up. (Aug.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Gr 10 Up-Preparing for her upcoming 14th birthday, Plum Coyle is awash in all of the teenage drama common to young people as they reach for adulthood. She uses a hidden collection of objects to provide her with the power to make the upcoming year better than the last. She hopes and prays that these objects will solve her personal problems and those of her family, and make her more attractive to her so-called friends. When an immature action by Plum is exposed, her friends turn their backs on her and she finds herself drawn to Maureen, her 30-something neighbor who offers her advice on how to become more assured, but who has her own agenda that will lead to a heartbreaking conclusion. Rebecca Macauley's flawless narration makes each character easily recognizable, and her accent reflects the Australian setting. Adult situations in Sonia Harnett's story (Candlewick, 2010) involving her older brothers make this book most appropriate for mature teens.-Ann Brownson, Ballenger Teachers Center, Eastern Illinois University, Charleston (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

A 14-year-old girl is poised to spring from her cocoon in this elegiac meditation on adolescent growing pains. Nothing fits for Plum Coyle-her clothes, her friends, her family, and her spotty skin are an affront to the powerful person she wishes to be. The only person who seems to understand is her next-door neighbor Maureen (a housewife more desperate than any found on Wisteria Lane), but Maureen's interest is based less on the girl's potential than on her obsession with Plum's brother Justin. Why It Is for Us: This story of a short-lived and mutually destructive friendship gets terrifyingly close to the truth about teenage girls. In the opening scene, a naked Plum tells her reflection, "There is no God....And even if there was a God...he wouldn't love you. Look at you. Nobody could love you." Rich with metaphors of feminine power and self-loathing, Hartnett's most accessible novel to date could easily be taught in a women's literature course.-Angelina Benedetti, "35 Going on 13," BookSmack! 7/15/2010 Copyright 2010 Reed Business Information.

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