Cruise, Robin. Fiona’s Private Pages. Harcourt, 2000. ISBN 978-0152165727 200 pp. $
Fans of Moss’s series Amelia’s Notebook and girls not quite ready for Naylor’s later Alice books will find a likable heroine in Fiona Claire Jardin. Age 11 1/2, she makes a New Year’s resolution to find out what makes a good friend. Her discoveries are chronicled in her diary. Entries detail softball games, the onset of puberty, crushes, divorce and parental dating, and middle school gossip. Fiona learns that sometimes it is braver to admit one is scared, and sometimes, promises have to be broken.
The writing carries perfect inflection of pre-adolescent worries. Doodles and lists break up the pages. An underlying issue of eating disorders creates an educational opportunity. It is obvious to this adult reader that one of Fiona’s good friends has a problem. The intended audience (recommended for ages 8-12) may not already know of the behavioral warning signs of anorexia, but as intelligent as Fiona comes across, it is easy to forget how young she is sometimes, and she seems a bit naive. Still, the situation is handled gracefully and with hope. Young women have body image issues younger and younger, and this title may offer not only information, but reassurance as well. Readers who missed Cruise’s first book will want to go back and read it; the second title is stands on its own.