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Jones, Traci L. Silhouetted by the Blue. Farrar, 2011. [208p]. ISBN 978-0-374-36914-9 $16.99 Reviewed from galleys R Gr. 6-9.

Since Serena's mother died in a car crash, it's up to Serena to make sure that her depressed father takes his medication, does the grocery shopping, pays the bills, and picks up her gregarious little brother, Henry, from school. Serena's only in seventh grade, though, and her father seems to be getting worse. When Serena gets the lead in the school play, her juggling act of trying to keep her grades up, memorize her lines, attend practice, and take care of Henry threatens to overwhelm her. Elijah, a boy who's obviously crushing on her, swoops in to help, but it soon becomes obvious that her father needs more than she can give; she calls her uncle, but he doesn't seem to understand the urgency until it's nearly too late. Winner of the Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe Award for Standing against the Wind (BCCB 12/06), Jones creates a convincing character in Serena, effectively portraying the girl's frustration and anger toward her father and her partial understanding of his mental state, as well as her longing to be able to do normal, self-centered, seventh-grade girl things; meanwhile, the escalation of her father's symptoms is also credibly rendered, particularly as he starts giving away his prized possessions and making sure that Serena knows where important documents are. Henry's second-grade processing skills are fully on display, as he oscillates between cute and annoying, denial and withdrawal, finally finding apt expression of his emotional state in the artistic skills he inherited from his father. Readers will be immediately sympathetic to Serena's plight and draw a sigh of relief when she finally gets the help she needs. [End Page 524]



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