Carolyn Mackler is the author of the acclaimed THE EARTH, MY BUTT, AND OTHER BIG ROUND THINGS. Of VEGAN VIRGIN VALENTINE, she says, "Mara Valentine first came to me in a short story. I loved how she was so rigid but at the same time hungering to break out. And V goes back about ten years, when I met these two girls who were aunt and niece. They've always stuck with me. Imagine how wild it would be to have an aunt and a niece the same age! What if they were total opposites? I knew that V was exactly what Mara needed to shake up the status quo."
"From the Hardcover edition."
Gr 8 Up-Overachieving high school senior Mara Valentine's drive stems from the belief that she is her parents' "Only Hope"; her 35-year-old sister has achieved nothing but having a daughter, V, who is only a year younger than Mara and appears to be a "nicotine-addicted nympho." Sport for Mara is competing with her ex-boyfriend for class valedictorian; she has been accepted early decision to Yale. Mara is a sharp, interesting narrator, but she has alienated most of her friends with her rigid, single-minded attitudes. Her life is thrown into chaos when V comes to live with the family, and provides multiple shades of gray in Mara's black-and-white world. She makes out with Mara's ex on the first day of school and constantly makes cutting, but frighteningly accurate, comments about the limitations of her aunt's life plans. In the midst of this chaos, while working part-time at a local cafe, Mara falls in love with her 22-year-old boss who hasn't gone to college and is forced to reassess the goals that V has already called into question. The romance is believable, as is the tension between Mara and V, although both situations resolve smoothly and somewhat quickly. This is a fast, often humorous read with some meat but no bite (although Mara does lose her virginity)-just the universal theme of growing up and figuring out what's important. This title will have strong appeal for teens grappling with these same questions.-Karyn N. Silverman, New York Public Library Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Mackler's (The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things) latest tale starring a strong female protagonist centers on Mara Valentine, who is headed to Yale and vying with her ex-boyfriend, Travis Hart, for valedictorian. Enter wild niece V, who is only a year younger (the daughter of Mara's sister, who is nearly 20 years older) and who moves in with Mara's family. The two get off to a bad start when V hooks up with Travis, and Mara gets worked up over V's gross habits and pot smoking. But the young women stick up for each other in unexpected moments, too (such as when Mara crosses out some nasty graffiti about V). The plotting here follows a familiar path: when Mara falls in love with James, the 22-year-0ld owner of the caf? where she works, she sees there is more to life than grades, while V, finally in a stable environment, begins to fulfill her "unrealized potential" by landing a part in the school play. While some readers may identify more with rebellious V than with Mara ("You sure are wound tight," V says to Mara), the two characters begin to deepen and mature through the course of the novel, and the audience may well warm up to Mara. There are some hilarious moments here, too; Mara, for example, who became vegan in order to stop obsessing over her ex, dreams of cheese and wakes up with lips that "tasted salty." Readers won't find anything groundbreaking here, but they will likely be entertained along the way. Ages 14-up. (Aug.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.