A wonderful YA debut full of drama for two very different sisters.
It's off-season at the Jersey shore, when the boardwalk belongs to the locals. Rosie is 15 and her sister Skate is 16. Their dad, an amiable drunk, is spending a few weeks in jail while their cousin Angie looks after them in their falling-down Victorian on the beach. Skate and her boyfriend Perry are madly in love, inseparable—until now, when Perry goes off to Rutgers. Rosie is shyer than Skate, but she’s drawn to Nick, a boy in their Alateen group. What happens to Rosie and Skate in a few tumultuous weeks is deftly shaded, complex, and true. Readers will be caught up in each girl’s shifting feelings as the story plays out within the embrace of their warmhearted community.
This is a quiet novel, though the lives of Bauman's narrators, two sisters, are anything but. Rosie, 15, and her 16-year-old sister, Skate, are temporary orphans, their alcoholic father having just landed himself in jail for several months after stealing money to buy booze. Rosie attends meetings for children of alcoholics and yearns for her father to shape up, while Skate retreats from the pain of abandonment by jumping from place to place, crashing wherever she can. With dad gone, both girls live rather nomadic lifestyles, taking love wherever they can get it, sometimes through sex encounters that leave them lost more than anything. Eventually, the girls begin to reestablish roots with each other and those who truly care for them, but the abrupt ending leaves several threads unresolved. The Jersey shore boardwalk setting also feels like a missed opportunity while the characters quickly become intriguing and three-dimensional, the boardwalk and all it offers are underdeveloped. There are heartening, thoughtful moments along the way, but at times, Bauman's (Beautiful Girls) novel feels more like a series of loosely connected narrative sketches. Ages 12 up.