For sixteen-year-old Ben Bancroft — a kid with cerebral palsy, no parents, and an overprotective grandmother — the closest thing to happiness is hunkering alone in the back of the Rialto Theatre and watching Bride of Frankenstein for the umpteenth time. The last person he wants to run into is drugged-up Colleen Minou, resplendent in ripped tights, neon miniskirt, and an impressive array of tattoos. But when Colleen climbs into the seat beside him and rests a woozy head on his shoulder, Ben has that unmistakable feeling that his life is about to change. With unsparing humor and a keen flair for dialogue, Ron Koertge captures the rare repartee between two lonely teenagers on opposite sides of the social divide. His smart, self-deprecating protagonist learns that kindred spirits may be found for the looking — and that the resolve to follow your passion can be strengthened by something as simple as a human touch.
Margaret Lucas Cavendish was born in 1623 into a wealthy Essex family. She received the typical education afforded a young woman of her station little beyond the rudiments deemed sufficient to permit her to take her place as wife to a nobleman and mother to his children. Though she did remain happily married to William Cavendish, marquess of Newcastle, for almost 30 years, little about the rest of her life was in any way conventional. She followed her Royalist husband into exile in France and Holland during the civil war; while abroad, she wrote and, even more extraordinarily, published under her own name a striking body of philosophical speculations, poetry and plays. On their return to England, she successfully managed her husband's estates. She was driven by a most unfeminine ambition to leave some mark behind and managed indeed to achieve a prominent place in English intellectual life. How could someone whom Virginia Woolf believed to be "the crazy Duchess... a bogey to frighten clever girls with" do so much while so mad? Whitaker's answer is simple. By carefully examining the evidence, she reveals that Margaret's madness, like her nickname, is a 19th-century artifact, rooted in a Victorian revulsion at her earthiness and energy. Along the way, Whitaker, in her first book (she has a Ph.D. in history of science from Cambridge University) provides a lucid and fascinating account of Margaret's life, work and times. In recent years, there has been increased scholarly attention given to Margaret Cavendish; this impressive biography can only generate further interest. 16 pages of photos not seen by PW.