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Rules of the Road
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About the Author

Joan Bauer is the author of thirteen books for young readers. She received a Newbery Honor Medal for Hope Was Here, and the L.A. Times Book Prize forRules of the Road. The Christopher Award was given to both Hope was Here andClose to Famous, which also received the Schneider Family Book Award. Joan is the recipient of numerous state awards voted by readers. School Library Journal says, "When it comes to creating strong, independent, and funny characters, Bauer is in a class by herself." Joan Bauer lives in Brooklyn, New York. Visit her at www.joanbauer.com.

Reviews

Gr 7 Up‘Jenna Boller, 16, has had a lot of practice at being responsible. Her mother is a nurse who works the night shift, and her younger sister yearns for attention. Jenna's long-divorced, alcoholic father embarrassingly shows up whenever he gets an occasional urge to "make it up" to her. In addition, her wise and beloved grandmother is grappling with Alzheimer's disease. So the teen's mother reluctantly agrees to let her accept a summer job driving the elderly Madeline Gladstone, the crusty and demanding president of the shoe chain for which Jenna works, from Chicago to Texas. Jenna is surprised to learn that Mrs. Gladstone has problems, too: an aching hip as well as an aching heart. Her conniving son is maneuvering to take over the company and sell out for a huge short-term gain. Jenna comes to admire and love her boss and eagerly enters into an alliance of loyal employees to save the company. In making this valiant attempt, she finds herself truly transformed. Bauer's juxtapositions are inviting‘youth and age, wealth and work-a-day struggle, big-city loneliness and big-state caring, practicing alcoholism and big-hearted sobriety, stockroom wisdom and boardroom chicanery. The author creates some fabulous and sometimes flamboyant characters, witty dialogue, and memorable scenes, thus making readers really care about the intricacies of matching shoes to people and finding the right focus for Jenna as she strives to meet tall goals. Bauer's best yet.‘Cindy Darling Codell, Clark Middle School, Winchester, KY

Bauer's novel about an earnest teenager who chauffeurs a crabby, wealthy woman has the underpinnings of a quirky Driving Miss Daisy, but the story quickly runs out of gas. Sixteen-year-old Jenna Boller has the world by the tail. She's just received her driver's license and she loves her job at Gladstone's Shoe Store. Even better, she's been tapped to drive Mrs. Madeline Gladstone, the imposing president of the shoe store chain, from Chicago to Dallas for an important shareholders meeting. During the road trip Jenna gets a chance to demonstrate her passion for shoe salesmanship at various Gladstone stores; she also learns of Elden Gladstone's plan to push his mother aside in favor of a major merger. While Jenna educates herself in the ways of big business and dealing with difficult people, she also ruminates about her alcoholic father, her ailing grandmother and her mom and sister waiting at home. She arrives back in Chicago both braver and wiser. As in Squashed, Bauer begins with an intriguing premise, weaves in unusual settings and scenarios and creates an offbeat first-person narrator to relay them. But a supporting cast of stock characters and forced dialogue may disappoint readers of her previous novels. Ages 12-up. (Apr.)

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