Sunday, January 9, 2011

Ryan, Amy Kathleen Zen & Xander Undone

Ryan, Amy Kathleen Zen & Xander Undone
Graphia see Houghton Mifflin 2010 212p 16.00
978-0-547-06248-8 hs Realistic Fiction VG-BN
Zen and Xander are sisters struggling with grief and a secret their dead mother kept from them. One turns inward until her anger lets fly in black belt shotokhan moves while the other sister turns into a “wild one”. Excellent portrayal of grief. Grades 8-12.
Grief is a personal thing. Zen (Athena) and Xander (Alexandra) are sisters struggling to find a new normal after their mother’s death from cancer. When they discover their mother asked the lawyer to make sure their mother’s college professor in graduate school receives a prized figurine of lovebirds, the girls become obsessed with finding out what the professor meant to their mother. Zen, the more reserved of the two is a black belt in shotokan and finds an outlet for her anger through a round house kick to a lecherous man who is dating her sister Xander. Xander works through her grief by being a “wild one” drinking, being promiscuous and smoking. Their father has descended into depression and rarely comes out of his bedroom so the girls are left on their own. A neighborhood boy and his mom try to help the girls but not until late in the novel do the girls respond to those who are trying to help them through their grief. Humor including a farting grandmother and rhyming retorts keep the novel from becoming too heavy. A whole range of emotions is well defined and appropriate to the situation. For those who have lost a loved one, this book will resonate especially the first part about the funeral and the last chapter where unbreakable family bonds are the strongest. For grades 8-12. Strongly recommended for high school libraries. The girls are well defined with emotions that range from anger and sibling rivalry to love and acceptance. Smart girls who overcome grief and personal problems in realistic fashion. Grades 8-12. McNicol,Lois

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