Tuesday, April 7, 2009


by Laura Kasischke
Language: English 
New York : HarperTeen, ©2008.
261 p. ; 19 cm.
ISBN: 0060813180; 9780060813185
Reading level: 18+
Protagonist: girl, 18
LOC Summary: While on Spring Break in Cancun, Mexico, high-school seniors and best friends Anne and Michelle accept the wrong ride and Michelle is lost--seemingly forever.
My review: Narrated by her friend, Anne, this is the story of 18-year-old Michelle, and of the trouble she gets into on vacation in Mexico with her two best friends. Michelle is the product of sperm donation and this has caused Michelle a life-long ache for a father. As Anne writes, "Once, I asked her if she was sad about not having a father, or not knowing who her father was. She just said, 'I'm always looking,' and I knew she meant that the looking was the bad part. Not the not having, but the blank space always waiting to be filled." Michelle has always known about her origins as her mother, as described by Anne, has "a policy about being open about everything," leaving "nothing left to the imagination at all," and this of course includes having been honest with Michelle from the beginning. Michelle, however, wishes her mother could have been just a little more sensitive on the subject of fathers. One day, after Doughnuts for Dads day at school, Michelle comes home and tells her mother, "I want a daddy." "You'll never have one," is her mother's blunt reply. But no matter how insensitive her mom is on the subject of fathers, Michelle's longing and curiosity can not be steeped.  "You can never shake it," she tells Anne. "Every man you see, you think, maybe that's my sperm. I mean, father. It's like the whole world's full of sperms, walking around, crossing the street, buying burgers at McDonald's." Michelle's mom is not at all attuned to Michelle's feelings on the subject, and Michelle thinks her mom might just as well not have been so honest with her. "She should have told me that she'd had a one-night stand, and he was dead," as it is this very knowledge of her sperm donor origins that leads Michelle into trouble.

Michelle is particularly attuned to men with blue-green eyes who play the cello and have curly dark hair as those were the attributes of the sperm, her mom had told her, that she had selected. While in Mexico, Anne and Michelle meet a man with these very attributes and accept his offer of a ride to the Mayan ruins several hours away from their hotel. Michelle is convinced that the ride is safe because she thinks the man could be her father, and in fact, is her father. What happens to Michelle after that trip to the Mayan ruins is the plot of the novel and it is intimated by the author that because of Michelle's yearning to connect with her biological father, she has poor judgment in a situation that leaves her in an intensely exposed and vulnerable situation. This book is recommended for mature teens only.
Reviews: Voice of Youth Advocates, Booklist, School Library Journal, Horn Book, Kirkus Review, Kliatt

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