For the eighteenth time since kinder-garten, twelve-year-old Hillary will enter a new school, and from years of experi-ence she anticipates the territory with its familiar cast of characters: the class clown, the popular girls, the really smart kid, and the sleepwalkers, "the kids who make up most of the class." Her likable, peripa-tetic, hippie-holdover parents travel theFor the eighteenth time since kinder-garten, twelve-year-old Hillary will enter a new school, and from years of experi-ence she anticipates the territory with its familiar cast of characters: the class clown, the popular girls, the really smart kid, and the sleepwalkers, "the kids who make up most of the class." Her likable, peripa-tetic, hippie-holdover parents travel the country selling handmade gizmos, "jewelry, refrigerator magnets, toothpick holder...recycled rearrangement[s] of resources." They decide to take up an offer to housesit a typical suburban home in Ashwater, California, for nine months, the longest stay anywhere in Hillary's memory. Hillary's visiting grandparents condemn her life as a "circus train" with parents who "think they're Peter Pan," but Hillary defends her life as fine. Yet Hillary's skewed sense of the world accounts for Koss's title: Hillary imagines she is the center of a giant experiment in which the rest of the world exists only to test her reactions, and only she is real. "I...imagined that on the other side of the door was absolutely nothing. Space, black and swirling. It would take my opening the door to make something appear behind it. I opened it and an entire scene came to life, complete with furniture, characters, even sound effects." She dubs those who observe her reactions the Watchers, and writes to them in her journal. Her smart, lightly ironic voice controls the narrative as well as her probing journalistic introspection. Put aside all your preconceptions about what will happen when Hillary becomes part of the "Serenas," the popular girls; makes a genuine friend of Cass, the really smart kid; and tutors Brian, the class clown. Koss artfully sidesteps the predictable and crafts a truly original piece of fiction brimming with humor and insight. Any child who has ever asked (and who has not?), "Do you ever feel like no one else is real but you?" will feel she has arrived home, like Hillary, in Ashwater....more
Hardcover, 0 pages
April 23rd 2001
by Turtleback Books
(first published June 1st 1999)
I really do love how the character grows in this story. I loved how Hillary starts out feeling disconnected, and I think everyone thinks at one point that they are the center of the universe literally, but she grows through the story and comes out different in the end.
Although sometimes I felt like this was a little slow going, it showed a girl's reaction as she moved into a new school, made new friends, reconciled herself to her interests as opposed to the popular interests. There is a lot of character development, owing to her upbringing and ability to think outside of the box. A coming of age story.
An interseting read about a girl who comes from a Hippie type family that moves constantly and she learns what roots are all about. I found this interesting because I also came from a hippie family and moved more than 20 times during the years I was in school, so I could relate.