Say the Word
by Garsee, Jeannine
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School Library Journal Gr 8 Up-Seventeen-year-old Shawna Gallagher is the poised daughter of a high-powered physician and a mother who abandoned the family 10 years earlier. Raised to be a fine hostess, excellent student, and future doctor, Shawna finds her "perfect" world unraveling when she gets a fateful phone call from her mother's Jewish lesbian partner, Fran. Shawna's mother has had a stroke and is near death. The teen is thrown into a tumultuous period during which everything she has believed-about herself, her demanding father, her "crazy" mother, her mother's partner, and their family-is open to question. Drawn reluctantly into Fran's family story, Shawna finds herself torn between her father, who is always right and always in control, and these strange people whom she does not want to know, but who somehow speak to her sense of fairness and, even more strangely, family. Shawna's actions seem to bear out her own "split personality," as the consequences of her forbidden involvement with Fran reverberate throughout their lives. Garsee has created an intense, frank novel with fragile, resilient, believable characters. Some relationships almost border on the contrived, but, overall, this is a mature and gripping coming-of-age story.-Roxanne Myers Spencer, Western Kentucky University, Bowling Green (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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

Publishers Weekly Garsee's (Before, After, and Somebody in Between) second novel hits the ground running and doesn't let up. Shawna Gallagher, a high school senior trying to live up to her domineering father's expectations, is awakened one night by a phone call: her estranged mother, who left Shawna and her father years earlier for a woman, Fran, has had a stroke. Following her mother's death, Shawna must confront her feelings about her mother and her own prejudices (she has particular issues with gay people, which are further complicated when her best friend comes out). Shawna's father, learning that one of Fran's sons is in fact his child by Shawna's mother, fights for (and gains) custody of the boy-finally spurring Shawna to defy him. The novel overflows with story lines and plot twists-Shawna's romance with her stepbrother (and her father's with her former babysitter), her ailing grandfather and the ridicule she faces in school. Nevertheless, Garsee presents a compelling portrait of a young woman growing up and coping with an overwhelming array of problems. Ages 14-up. (Mar.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Book list *Starred Review* Ten years ago, Shawna's mom, Penny, came out, moved out, and never looked back. For 10 years Shawna aspired to be everything her protective, perfectionist father, Jack, wanted her to be, distancing herself as much as possible from the shame that Penny's abandonment caused her. But at 17, Shawna is pulled by her mother's death into contact with Penny's partner, Fran, and their sons, Arye, 17, and Schmule, 10. Jack, who legally remains Penny's next of kin, financially ruins Fran's family and then goes after Schmule, who is revealed to be Penny and Jack's biological child. Shawna finds herself questioning her allegiances, but she is powerless in the shadow of her domineering father. The more Shawna tries to connect with Schmule and to make amends with Fran and Arye, the more vicious Jack becomes, leaving Shawna alone to deal with the dawning realization that Schmule is a great danger to himself. There are many issues at play in this powerful and compelling novel gay rights, acceptance, shame, first love, domestic violence, harassment, depression all swirling around Shawna, whose thoughts and emotions are not always politically correct, but are always genuine. This sensitive and heart-wrenching story slowly unfolds into a gripping read featuring realistically flawed characters who undergo genuine growth.--Booth, Heather Copyright 2009 Booklist

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