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Gr. 6^-9. "Mollie and Hal are getting a divorce from each other, and I'm getting a divorce from both of them. At least I'd like to," says thoroughly exasperated daughter Mac. With each parent taking on a lover as well as a cutthroat attorney, Mac grows increasingly frustrated, especially when she is forced to move between two homes. But as her life becomes more complicated, she begins to see herself and her parents more clearly. Robinson has a crackling turn of phrase, and her background in the legal profession lends an unmistakable authenticity to the plot. She also has such a sharp eye for detail that the city of Charleston nearly becomes a character in a story rich with eccentric personalities. If Mac overcomes a concluding crisis too easily, it is still impossible not to root for her. --Susan Dove Lempke
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First-time novelist Robinson puts her experience as a Charleston Family Court attorney to good use in this wryly humorous yet emotion-packed story about a 13-year-old girl at the center of a bitter custody dispute. Margaret "Mac" Whitford doesn't understand why her self-absorbed parents are divorcing when they still love each other. However, Hal, a lawyer, and Mollie, a status-conscious "whole environment designer" (someone who turns "a perfectly ordinary person with ordinary-to-tacky taste... into a `total design statement' ") aren't consulting Mac about their relationship or anything else, for that matter. Neither asks her about which parent she wants to live with, or stops to think that she might mind have her psychiatrist's notes entered into evidence. But Mac gets an unlikely champion in the person of court-appointed guardian Henrietta, an aged and eccentric Old Charlestonian, who in turn enlists the help of equally eccentric lawyer Drayton Guerard. Although Henrietta dies and divorce proceedings continue, Guerard's crafty maneuverings enable Mac to make a stand for herself. Gritty, thought-provoking and highly entertaining, this accomplished novel will gladden any reader who has been buffeted by familial upheaval. Ages 10-14. (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
School Library Journal
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Gr 6-9-"Half a kid isn't great, but it's better than none at all." That is what Mac figures that her parents are thinking as they battle over her custody. Through discussions with her analyst, the eighth grader traces the breakdown of her parents' marriage and attempts to understand her own reactions to it. Written in a first-person narrative, the book's strengths are the competent plot development and Robinson's ability to relate Mac's frustration with the upheaval in her life. It is more introspective and less lighthearted than Louise Fitzhugh's Sport (1979) and Paula Danziger's The Divorce Express (1982, both Delacorte). Yet the novel's more serious tone is never overwhelming, even though the use of descriptive language is quite powerful. Mac's quick sense of humor and the Charleston, SC, setting add to the appeal. Unfortunately, references to racism, adultery, AIDS, and relationships with the elderly are never fully developed and do nothing to enhance the story. Nonetheless, Gateway is a well-written and thoughtful book with an engaging young heroine.-Robyn Nicoline Ryan, Otterville Public School, Ontario (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.