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Sean Griswold's Head

by Leavitt, Lindsey

School Library Journal Gr 6-9-When 15-year-old Payton Gritas gives her family the silent treatment for withholding her father's MS diagnosis for six months, her parents request the aid of their daughter's guidance counselor, who assigns a focus object exercise. Payton chooses Sean Griswold's head because she and Sean have been linked by last name proximity since the third grade. Soon, with the help of her boy-crazy friend Jac, Payton gets to know Sean Griswold the person and the head. Interpersonal conflicts abound as the teen chooses to focus on avoidance rather than confronting the fear she is experiencing. In a balanced proportion of comedy and gravity, she comes to terms with her father's illness, deals with conflicts she has created with Jac, and eventually opens up her heart to a little romance. While the path that Leavitt paves for her protagonist is somewhat predictable, the likable characters will have girls gravitating toward the novel. Though the book takes a light look at a teenager coming to grips with a parent's serious illness, it is refreshing and realistic without being overwrought with angst.-Adrienne L. Strock, Maricopa County Library District, AZ (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Publishers Weekly A chronic worrier, high school freshman Payton Gritas has just had a massive wrench thrown into her hyperorganized life: for six months her family has kept her father's multiple sclerosis diagnosis a secret from her. The school guidance counselor asks Payton to keep a journal about a "Focus Object" of her choosing, and she picks Sean Griswold's head, since he has sat in front of her in class for years. The drama begins when her boy-crazy best friend, Jac, decides that they should research Sean-and then starts playing matchmaker. Payton soon falls for sensitive Sean and begins to share his passion for cycling, but between her father's illness, her declining grades, and her faltering friendship with Jac, she isn't sure that she can let someone new into her life. Leavitt (the Princess for Hire series) delicately handles topics of illness, evolving relationships, and what it means to grow up. Payton's alternately sarcastic, snappy, and reflective narration ("The truth, I know, is that it's not my dad I'm really mad at. I'm mad at his disease") carries this insightful story. Ages 12-up. (Mar.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Book list A teenager charts her rocky course toward, as she puts it, getting over myself in the wake of the revelation that her father has contracted multiple sclerosis. Enraged to learn that everyone else in her family has been shielding her from the knowledge for six months, 15-year-old Payton stops speaking at home, lets her schoolwork slide, and manages to alienate both her stubbornly loyal best friend and budding romantic interest Sean a classmate who, thanks to alphabetization, has occupied the desk in front of her since third grade. Setting up the central conflict as an inner one between Payton's anger-fueled grief and her deep-seated good nature and common sense, Leavitt tucks in lines like I don't do spandex. The devil wears spandex. And I doubt the devil's butt is as big as mine while bringing her protagonist around to acceptance and repaired relationships with help from patient family members and peers, an unexpectedly wise guidance counselor, a little prayer, a newfound love for long-distance biking, and plenty of self-analysis. It's formulaic, but the formula is tried-and-true.--Peters, John Copyright 2010 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright American Library Association. Used with permission.