by Paul Fleischman

Los Angeles gridlock sets the stage for Paul Fleischman’s novel. Seventeen-year-old... read more

Los Angeles gridlock sets the stage for Paul Fleischman’s novel. Seventeen-year-old Del is giddy with the freedom that awaits her as she drives out of town after successfully faking her own drowning death. Her childhood played out in an unhappy series of foster homes, and she is more than ready to break out of her past and begin a new life, complete with a new name, Elena. Her escape is soon stalled by a massive traffic jam. The rest of the book is devoted to Del’s observations of her fellow drivers, alternating with flashes forward to her 25-year-old future self, a single mother and artist about to launch a one-woman performance. Laugh-out-loud humor meshes with insight as Del reacts to the scene around her and eventually becomes part of the tenuous sense of community forming among the stranded drivers. The more mature Elena has transformed that scene into her monologue. Although Del’s sage perspective at times pushes the boundaries of adolescent credibility, the author’s masterful handling of her story and the book’s clever structure will be relished by sophisticated teen readers. (Ages 15–18)

© Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 2004

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