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Vicky Angel
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Wilson (The Story of Tracy Beaker, reviewed July 23) here poignantly addresses a tragic and traumatic experience: the death of a friend. Narrator Jude and her friend Vicky are inseparable ("We're going to be best friends for ever and ever and ever, through school, through college, through work"), until one afternoon, when Vicky is hit by a car. But the separation is temporary: after learning at the hospital that Vicky has died, Jude returns to the site of the accident, where she discovers a bouquet of red roses ("It's as if any spilt blood has been magically morphed into sweet-smelling flowers")Aas well as Vicky. Guilt-filled (at one point Vicky's mother asks Jude, "Couldn't you have stopped her?"), the grieving girl finds solace in visits from Vicky's ghost. Yet Wilson adds intriguing dimension to her plot, as the apparition intermittently comforts and taunts Jude, sometimes making her laugh and at other times encouraging her to be mean to classmates who try to comfort her. Other characters, too, seem to make light of the events (e.g., Jude's mother wishes to contribute flowers and, upon learning that white lilies were Vicky's favorites, says, "They'll cost a fortuneAbut it can't be helped, I suppose"). Despite the well-intentioned efforts of teachers and friends, Vicky increasingly becomes a controlling presence from which Jude feels unable to escape. Yet ultimately, the friends do let go, as Jude's narrative reaches an affirming, affecting conclusion. Ages 8-12. (Sept.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.

Gr 6-8-Jade and Vicky are as close as sisters and have been friends since nursery school. However, while Vicky is outgoing and bubbly, Jade is quiet, and definitely the follower in the relationship. As the teens are leaving school one day, they have an argument. Vicky flounces off in a huff, crossing the street without looking. She is hit by a car and dies in the hospital. Remorseful, Jade returns to the spot where the accident happened. She encounters Vicky, now a ghost, who over the next several months takes to tormenting Jade, getting in the way of homework and new friendships. A teacher suggests that the young woman might benefit from grief counseling. In the final pages, when she gives evidence at the inquest, Jade, who has felt responsible for the death, allows herself to remember the events leading up to the accident. This is a well-written book by a popular British author, but somehow it just doesn't work: the ending is facile, as is the implication that her sudden recollection of what happened makes her "OK." Also, the idea that she would see a grief counselor without her parents' approval is interesting, but Mrs. Wainwright seems a little too good to be true, and the relationship and trust between the two develop too quickly. Still, the book may prove popular with reluctant readers who enjoy novels that portray teen angst.-Marlyn K. Roberts, Torrance Public Library, CA Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.

"A brilliant writer of wit and subtlety whose stories are never patronising and often complex and many-layered." -- "The Times"
"Jacqueline Wilson has a rare gift for writing lightly and amusingly about emotional issues." -- "American Bookseller"
"She's so good, it's exhilarating." -- Philip Pullman

"From the Hardcover edition."

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