Reviews provided by Syndetics
Publishers Weekly Review
When her boyfriend goes away for the summer, Macy, still grieving for her recently deceased father, must make it on her own. "Dessen gracefully balances comedy with tragedy and introduces a complex heroine worth getting to know," according to PW. Ages 12-up. (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
School Library Journal Review
Gr 7 Up-Sarah Dessen's first person story (Viking, 2004) unfolds through the eyes of 16-year-old Macy, a high school student who was with her father when he died of a heart attack 18 months ago. She and her mother have developed a strained routine by convincing each other that they are "fine, just fine" when Macy knows deep down that they are far from okay. They've never properly grieved or allowed themselves to integrate this awful experience and grow from it. Through a summer of chaotic catering experiences, an acquaintance with a young artist who lost his mother to cancer, and a friendship with a girl who carries her scars openly and deals with them in a like manner, Macy learns what she needs to do to mend herself and hopefully help her mother. This winning novel features convincing parent-child interactions and a growing romance. Stina Nielsen does a great job with Dessen's realistic dialogue, varying pitch, pacing, and tone to differentiate between characters. She delivers the "Fine, just fine" mantra that is repeated throughout the novel with perfect pitch every time, varied according to speaker and occasion but always on target. Teenagers in middle school and above will relate to Macy's emotional growth and discovery of the importance of communication in this sometimes humorous but always poignant novel.-Jane P. Fenn, Corning-Painted Post West High School, NY (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Gr. 9-12. Dessen returns to a familiar theme and recognizable characters: the perfect girl at odds with a controlling mother and keeping boys at arm's length because of father issues. Here the girl is Macy Queen. Her father has died, her mother can't grieve, and every time Macy tries to break out of the automaton state in which she is trapped, Mrs. Queen reels her back. Macy gets a job with a catering company, whose employees mirror and mask similar emotions to her own--among them, a girl who is scarred on the outside, but not on the inside, and two motherless brothers, the older of whom, Wes, helps Macy break through. As is often the case with Dessen, the novel is a mixed bag. Much of it is wonderful. At its purest, the writing reaches directly into the hearts of teenage girls: Macy's games of truth with Wes are unerringly conceived, sharply focused on both characters and issues. Yet a subplot about Macy's job at the library features cardboard characters and unbelievable situations. This seesawing between spot-on observations and superfluous scenes slows the pace and makes readers wait too long for the book's best moments. --Ilene Cooper Copyright 2004 Booklist
Horn Book Review
After her father's death, runner Macy Queen tries to conform to the expectations of her distant mother and perfectionist boyfriend. A summer catering job introduces Macy to some well-drawn peripheral characters, while providing the impetus for self-exploration and eventual communication with her family. This meandering tale explores different approaches to grief but is marred by a predictable ending. (c) Copyright 2010. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. All rights reserved.
Kirkus Book Review
Macy declined Dad's early-morning invitation to jog, changed her mind, and ran out to catch him, only to see him die of a heart attack before her eyes. Overwhelmed by grief and guilt, she sets about guaranteeing that every aspect of her life is controlled, perfect, safe--from her academically ambitious but unaffectionate boyfriend, to her tidiness, to her boring summer job at the library information desk. When Macy's cautious self-discipline collides with Wish Catering, its offbeat staff, and its wacky crisis management, readers can pretty much predict the outcome. Macy will be teased out of her cocoon and grief by a new job with the caterer and new friends (including romantic hunk Wes) into their messy, lively, creative world. The plot is too conventional, some secondary characters are stock, the storm that brings everyone together at the end is too handy, but the Wish team is lovable, the romance clicks, and readers will be entertained. (Fiction. 12-14) Copyright ©Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.