Natalie Standiford is the author of HOW TO SAY GOODBYE IN ROBOT, CONFESSIONS OF THE SULLIVAN SISTERS, and THE SECRET TREE. She is originally from Maryland, but now lives in New York City and plays in the all-YA-author band Tiger Beat.
Gr 9 Up-Beatrice Szabo is having a tough year in this novel (Scholastic, 2009) by Natalie Standiford. Her father's job has caused a move-again-and Bea must start her senior year at a small private school in Baltimore. Her parents' marriage is disintegrating and her mother's bizarre behavior has become alarming. To deal with the stress, the teenager shuts off her emotions and refuses to feel too happy or too sad about anything. Her mother calls her a robot. At school, Bea finds a soul mate in Jonah, the outcast of the senior class. He earned the nickname Ghost Boy after his disabled twin brother died in a car accident and Jonah retreated into himself. Jonah introduces Bea to "Night Light," a local late night call-in radio show, and the pair spends nights listening in on the lonely eccentrics who call in. The story takes an intense turn when Jonah discovers that his brother didn't actually die in the accident but is living in an institution. This character driven novel is beautifully narrated by Kate Rudd who uses an acerbic tone perfectly suited to Beatrice. The audio format especially shines during the "Night Light" portions of the story. A dozen different narrators are used as callers for the radio show, and their quirky voices vibrate with personality. The smattering of harsh language makes this a better choice for libraries serving older teens It's refreshing to find a YA story that focuses on a platonic friendship between a boy and girl, and teens will be hooked.-Tricia Melgaard, Centennial Middle School, Broken Arrow, OK (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.