“Maine Under Water” by Allison Wittenberg

Nothing goes right. Her valedictory speech is cut short by a power blackout. Her attempt to overcome her fear of water sewers majestically. Her boyfriend doesn’t write. Her parents won’t let her get a job. The library is closed for renovations.

And yet, somehow, she seems to soldier on. She gets her fifteen minutes of media attention in a completely unexpected way, the summer grinds to an end, and despite all the angst, she moves on with her life, full of optimism.

An interesting side story is the in-depth look we get into the civil rights movement of the 1970s. Not the history version: the daily life of someone living it. When these kids talk about “them” and what “they” are like, they’re talking about the white kids, and it’s a shock to see how right they are.

The strength of the story is the main character’s personality and the way she is presented. Her introspective nature, her sharp wit and her forced solitude combine to produce a smattering of brilliant moments that appear at odd intervals. The dialogue with her parents and family feels true to life and free of the exaggeration of modern teenage television conversations. She does not play to the camera; the film of Maine’s life runs inside her own head, giving us the feeling that if she found out we were watching, she would be surprised and embarrassed, despite her complaints about her lack of recognition.

The only problem spots are where the boredom begins to seep over into the reader’s feelings. At times this aspect of her life is shown a little to well.

Recommended for YA readers, and perhaps their parents, too.

4 stars.

About the Author: Gordon Long

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