Vanessa Wu's Reviews > A Place in This Life

A Place in This Life by Julie Rieman Duck
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Nov 01, 11

Read from October 16 to November 01, 2011

Although this book had some minor editing flaws that made it superficially less than perfect, I have no hesitation in giving it five stars because of the effortless plausibility of its prose.

The author has captured perfectly what it feels like to be a young girl on the verge of womanhood, wrestling with nascent sexual desires and the expectations of her family and friends.

The story is an unusual one and I didn't expect to like it. I'm squeamish about illness and I try to avoid too much discussion of medical details. But Natalie, the young girl in this story, gets involved with a boy with leukemia, so a certain amount of medical description is inevitable.

What makes the story so readable is the author's steady focus on Natalie's feelings. I particularly liked the emphasis on her insecurities about her body and her lack of confidence in relationships. I could identify with Natalie. The challenge with any piece of writing about sexual feelings is setting an appropriate context for them and Julie Duck does this expertly from the very beginning so that every nuance of Natalie's evolving experience rings true. Natalie's relationship with her family is also very well done.

There is a lot of detail in the book, a lot of very good dialogue, and the characters are developed naturally through their interactions with one another as the events of the story unfold.

This is the first of several books Julie Duck has written aimed at young adults. She says it's the kind of book she'd wished she could have read when she was a teenager. Yes, I believe her. I think many teenagers would devour this book and identify with Natalie Miller; and I think Julie Duck should write many more excellent books like this for them so they don't have to wait too long between meals.
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