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*Do-Over* by Christine Hurley Deriso - tweens/young readers book review



by Christine Hurley Deriso
Ages 9-12 192 pages Delacorte June 2006 Hardcover    

Do-Over author Christine Hurley Deriso has enjoyed a long career as a journalist and editor for a variety of publications. This South Carolina resident is kept busy entertaining students with her stories and book readings (Do-Over is her third children's book).

Elsa is twelve years old when she wanders home after school to discover her mother dead of an aneurism. Overwhelmed with grief and anger, Elsa welcomes the news that her father has accepted a new position in another town. Her hopes of finding peace in her new surroundings are soon squashed, though, as she finds new challenges with middle school. While suffering a mild breakdown, Elsa is visited by her mother’s spirit. Just before leaving, Elsa’s mother offers her a very special gift: a charmed family heirloom that can turn back time for 10 seconds. There is a catch; this gift will not last forever. Its power will run out when Elsa turns 13.

Experiencing change in a new town with new social rules and clique groups in school has Elsa using the gift over and over again as she makes an effort to feel accepted. In the process, she learns how to be a true friend and accept her own errors as lessons rather than social suicide. Readers see that many people’s lives are not what they appear to be from the outside; an individual’s actions or reactions may only be a product of their own insecurities or fears.

Deriso draws readers into a pre-teen girl’s traumatic life through the first-person narrative. I sometimes felt as if I were reading a diary, at other times like Elsa’s best-friend being told about her deepest feelings. While Do-Over might be a bit too predictable and feel simplified, the author reveals her characters’ flaws and background stories slowly, allowing the reader to view the world as Elsa does. Do-Over is emotionally charged from the onset, with touching and thought-provoking scenes.

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  Lillian Brummet/2006 for curled up with a good kid's book  

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