Mazer, Norma Fox. Girlhearts. Harper Teen, 2002. ISBN 978-0380722907 320 pp. $
It has always been just Sarabeth and her mother Jane who had Sarabeth out of wedlock as a teen; when Sara’s mother has a heart attack and dies, the orphaned Sarabeth (used to be fairly independent) is forced to live first with friends of the family who come to resent her, and then with a friend’s family until they make it clear she is overstaying her welcome. Unsure of where her place in the world is, she runs away to meet the family that disowned her mother for having her before settling on a permanent place to live that will become a home for her.
This sequel to Silver (Morrow, 1988) is a stand-alone novel about relationships: between girlfriends, between mothers and daughters, between families. Although this book seems tame compared to some of what is being published these days for teens, Mazer still has a handle on the problem novel, creating a believable protagonist, real emotions, and a realistic plot. My one criticism is that Sarabeth is occasionally a passive character–much happens to her–but she finally breaks outs and takes action to act for her own best interests, since no one else seems willing to do it.