The Pistachio Prescription by Paula Danziger
Dell, 3rd printing, 1979
Genre: Young adult
Synopsis & Review: Thirteen-year-old Cassie Stephens is about to start fresh in high school, but she’s not too sure how she feels about it. She feels ugly, like an alien in her own family of beautiful blondes and redheads; she’s self-conscious about her asthma and height; she’s worried about her best friend Vicki’s plan to overthrow the established cliques in student government at their new school; she’s worried about her parents, who never stop fighting. And she also wonders about Vicki’s new neighbor Bernie, and what he could possibly see in her.
Despite being convinced that death by some exotic ailment–or even just asthma–is imminent, Cassie moves forward. She takes on new responsibilities, such as being the nominee for class president, learns what having a boyfriend is like, and tries to deal with her hateful older sister and parental dysfunction. As long as she’s got her pistachios, Cassie figures she’ll make it.
I know I was no older than nine when I first read The Pistachio Prescription, because it’s got a library stamp from my second elementary school, Mililani Waena (no worries, it has a Cancelled stamp, too). It belongs to the first phase of Danziger’s writing, a grittier, angrier, and decidedly less fanciful phase than later works such as Remember Me to Harold Square and This Place Has No Atmosphere, and frankly, I think that era includes Danziger’s best work. Parents don’t understand, teachers are jerks, and the world simply has little to no consideration for kids. Read the rest of this entry »