Leap Day

by Wendy Mass

Wendy Mass’s novel balances lighthearted fun with a thoughtful examination... read more

Wendy Mass’s novel balances lighthearted fun with a thoughtful examination of the many ways we only think we know and understand each other. Teenager Josie Taylor is turning four—her birthday is February 29. The events of Josie’s leap-year birthday play out in chapters that alternate between Josie’s first-person narrative and an omniscient author’s narrative. The author/narrator offers perspectives on events directly and indirectly related to Josie from many individuals who interact with her throughout the day. One of the most intriguing things about those chapters are the brief glimpses of the future that are sometimes presented, underscoring the ways things that loom so large in the present can fade to insignificance, or how seemingly small acts can lead to a life-changing course. In addition, by giving insight into so many characters and offering multiple perspectives on the same series of events (which range from solemn—but never heavy—to hilarious), Mass offers a fascinating look at the way individuals so easily interpret the feelings and actions of others based on conclusions that are often incorrect and how misunderstandings and missed opportunities can result. Set primarily at Josie’s high school, the novel creates an intimate portrait of Josie, an essentially happy teen who nonetheless has fears she hasn’t told even her closest friends and insecurities she can’t articulate, although others see them. Josie’s friendships are solid, despite occasional misunderstandings, and the members of her family don’t just love each other, they really like one another—more so, in fact, than any of them fully realize. That’s one of the many refreshing aspects of this unusual, highly original novel set over the course of a single day. (Ages 12–16)

© Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 2005

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