Missing Pieces by Norma Fox Mazer
originally published 1995
Harcourt, 1st edition, 2007
Genre: YA fiction, juvanalia
Jacket copy: Jessie Wells doesn’t know her father. He left one day, saying he’d be back in a few hours. But he never came back. Curious about her father, she decides to do some investigating. But she may not be prepared for what she discovers …
Book report: The jacket copy makes it all sound so much more scandalous and interesting than it really was. I mean, those ellipsis, they suggest something nefarious or ominous … and there really isn’t anything of the sort. Jessie’s dad just got bored of having a family, and he wasn’t much interested in his child. Not that it’s a bad book, or anything, but it’s not suspense. It’s about a teenage girl who wants to know where she came from, who doesn’t know anything about her father but that he was handsome and he left her and her mother and never came back. Though she’s always wondered about him, things finally come to a head when a school assignment sends her looking for her family history. But her mother was orphaned young, cared for by an elderly aunt, and Jessie’s father is AWOL–so she decides she must find out anything she can about him.
Along the way we see the difficulties she and her mother have caring for their aging Aunt Zis, who is more and more prone to forgetting where she is and what she’s doing. And Jessie tries to make her two best friends befriend each other, while one BFF’s family falls apart. And she navigates the tricky waters of coming to like her BFF’s crush–and finding out that he likes her, too. And she finds out that the handsome hero her mother married is only one layer of the father she never knew. Read the rest of this entry »
Babyface by Norma Fox Mazer
originally published 1990
Harcourt, 1st printing, 2007
Genre: Young adult, juvanalia
Book Report: Toni and Julie have been best friends forever. They’ve lived next door to one another since before they were born a week apart, and though their families couldn’t be more different, they get along great. The girls themselves also couldn’t be more different: Julie is a tall blonde extrovert/drama queen, and Toni is a shy petite brunette. Regardless, they are inseparable, spending all their free time together and celebrating birthdays together.
Then, the summer they turn fourteen, Julie’s parents decide they need something different. Her father takes off for Alaska, and rather than be left behind wondering, Julie’s mom takes her two daughters to San Francisco for the summer. Toni is all alone for the first time in her life, and when her father has a heart attack, she feels even more bereft. While staying with her estranged older sister for a few days, Toni discovers a disturbing secret about her family, one that she just can’t get over, not by herself. When school starts up again in the fall and Julie still hasn’t returned, Toni handles it with the help of Julie’s old crush. But when Julie comes back, will she see it as an innocent friendship? Or is it something more?
Norma Fox Mazer was Some Big Deal in YA during the years I was a young adult (and before and after them, too). I remember seeing her name on books at the library on in book orders, but for whatever reason, I never really read any. Except for Silver, which I read in one afternoon when I was trapped in an afterschool program in sixth grade. And I think that’s unfortunate, because what’s I’ve read so far has been excellent. I randomly picked Babyface and Taking Terri Mueller out from the MCL’s catalog, inspired by my inability to recall Norma Klein’s name while looking for books related to the Shelf Discovery Challenge. How fortunate for me. Read the rest of this entry »