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Holly Starcross


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About the Author

Berlie Doherty was born in Liverpool. She studied English Literature at Durham University and has been a full-time writer, for both children and adults, since the publication of her first book in 1982. She has won the Carnegie Medal twice - for Granny Was a Buffer Girl and Dear Nobody - and the Writers' Guild Children's Fiction Award for Daughter of the Sea. Her books have been translated into 17 languages. Berlie lives in the Derbyshire Peak District.


In this fast-paced novel, Doherty (Daughter of the Sea) unravels the story of 14-year-old narrator Holly, who feels like an outsider living with her "beautiful" mother and stepfather and their three children. When a man begins following Holly after school in his car, she suspects he is her real dad, whom she has not seen since she was six years old. The author poignantly captures the girl's plight ("I was frightened in case the man was a prowler after all, a stranger who knew my name, haunting me to snatch me away from my life. I wanted him to go away. I wanted to see him again"). He turns out to be her father and, with her consent, "kidnaps" her. They make their way to his home in the country, as he tells her family stories including the story of her birth and his take on that night eight years ago when he came home to find his wife had disappeared with Holly. With her dad, she feels "completely at ease," but her mother soon finds them, and demands that Holly choose between her parents. Readers may find her father's initial spying a bit creepy; the explanation of how he tracks her down is a bit too neat; and the conclusion feels rushed. But Holly's unique voice and her interactions with both parents are touching and memorable; the adults become as full-blooded as the heroine. In the end, Doherty packs powerful emotions into this moving family drama. Ages 12-up. (Sept.) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.

Gr 7 Up-The two-time winner of Britain's prestigious Carnegie Medal has written another first-person narrative that touches on themes of unstable families and emotional abandonment. Holly Starcross has known two lives. For the first six years of her life, she lived with her parents and lots of animals in the country. Then her mother abruptly left her father, taking her daughter with her. Holly, now 14, lives with her mother, her stepfather, and their three children. A stranger who begins following her turns out to be her father, whom she hasn't seen or heard from in eight years. She agrees to run off with him, spending five days learning about him and revisiting her family home and paternal grandparents, while the media carries her story as a kidnapping. Eventually Holly returns home, although she wants to keep in contact with her father, too. Her mother then demands that Holly choose between them. Many elements seem improbable in this contemporary novel. Holly's mother leaves without so much as a forwarding address; Holly's father takes eight years to find his daughter, even though his ex-wife is a television personality; and Holly's e-mail pal turns out to be her paternal grandmother. The teen seems more adult in her behavior than either one of her parents, as she learns that it is all right to love them both, and her stepfather as well. Readers will have fun with the British phrases, and Holly's genuine love for her Down syndrome half-sister is a nice touch. However, while the characters are interesting and well drawn, some of their actions lack credibility.-Connie Tyrrell Burns, Mahoney Middle School, South Portland, ME Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.

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