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Lennie has always been the companion pony to her sister Bailey's race horse. When Bailey dies suddenly while rehearsing the lead in Romeo and Juliet, Lennie is thrust into the spotlight. A normally reserved band geek who reads Wuthering Heights like a manifesto, Lennie is not prepared to deal with her grief. Nor is she equipped to confront the affection she feels for her dead sister's fiancé. Adding to her emotional roller coaster is the gorgeous, musically gifted new boy in town who is clearly in love with her. Lennie is sympathetic, believable, and complex. Readers will identify with her and root for her to finally make the first steps toward healing. Nelson incorporates poems, written by Lennie and left for the wind to carry away, that help readers delve deeper into her heart. Bonus: teens unfamiliar with Wuthering Heights will likely want to find out what all the fuss is about. A story of love, loss, and healing that will resonate with readers long after they have finished reading.--Yusko, Shauna Copyright 2010 Booklist
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When Lennie's older sister dies suddenly, she is devastated, but she also starts realizing she no longer has to be the "companion pony" to the "thoroughbred" that was her dazzling sister. Living her own life proves difficult, however, both because it "doesn't seem right that anything good should come out of Bailey's death" and because of complications that arise when she falls in love with a talented musician in the school band. This honest, complex debut is distinguished by a dreamy California setting and poetic images that will draw readers into Lennie's world, particularly in the notes Lennie writes about life with her sister on bits of paper and even trees ("I button one of her frilly shirts/ over my own T-shirt./ ....I always feel better then,/ like she's holding me"). The author perhaps creates a few too many vibrant characters and plot points (Lennie also searches for her missing mom and discovers secrets Bailey was hiding). Even so, readers will be moved by Lennie's ability to admit to even some of her most unpleasant feelings and motivations, and her growing willingness to live "full blast." Ages 14-up. (Mar.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
School Library Journal
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Gr 10 Up-When her older sister dies from an arrhythmia, 17-year-old Lennie finds that people are awkward around her, including her best friend. While dealing with her conflicted feelings toward her sister's boyfriend, her anguish over Bailey's unexpected death, and her sudden curiosity about sex, Lennie must also cope with her unresolved feelings about her mother, who left when Lennie was an infant. Debut author Nelson expertly and movingly chronicles the myriad, roller-coaster emotions that follow a tragedy, including Lennie's reluctance to box up her sister's belongings and her guilt over bursts of happiness. The portrayal of the teen's state of mind is believable, as are the romanticizing of her absent mother and the brief scenes of underage drinking and sexual exploration. Chapters are typically anchored by brief snippets of Lennie's writings. This is a heartfelt and appealing tale. Girls who gobble up romantic and/or weep-over fiction will undoubtedly flock to this realistic, sometimes funny, and heartbreaking story.-Jennifer Schultz, Fauquier County Public Library, Warrenton, VA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.