- When My Sister Started Kissing by Helen Frost
Trade ed. ISBN 978-0-374-30303-7 $16.99
E-book ed. ISBN 978-0-374-30304-4 $9.99
Reviewed from galleys R* Gr. 5-8
Claire, ten, and Abigail, thirteen, always spend summers at their lake cabin, but this year is different: their new and very pregnant stepmother, Pam, is joining them and their father. Another change comes with Abigail’s sudden interest in boys, leaving [End Page 265] Claire feeling excluded and resentful, especially as Abigail—now calling herself Abi—demands Claire cover Abigail’s illicit outings to see boys and begins to bond with the stepmother they’d jointly disdained. Skilled poet Frost employs several different verse forms (explained in an afterword) in poems from the viewpoints of Claire, Abigail, and the lake itself; the result is a pleasing absence of villains and an understanding of the challenges of family change and individual growth. Both Claire and Abigail are sympathetic despite and because of their flaws, and the book is particularly deft at depicting patterns of growth in one accessible step at a time as Claire negotiates her relationship with her brand new half-brother and Abigail tests the limit of her growing maturity. This is similar territory to Tamaki’s superb This One Summer (BCCB 6/14), but it can reach to younger readers; while the poetic element will give the book a place in curricula, the story of summer change and growth will resonate with any kid negotiating adolescence directly or by proxy.