Thursday, September 24, 2015

Tell Me, by Joan Bauer

Anna's parents are separating and she is sent to spend the summer with her grandmother, who is herself embroiled in putting together their town's famous flower parade.  As with all Joan Bauer heroines, Anna has a particular talent -- hers is acting.  Whether it's being a gymnastic giant cranberry or a singing petunia, Anna knows how to find her motivation and move a crowd.  But when she encounters a scared young girl who may be a victim of human trafficking, she's in over her head and it's time to call Homeland Security.

And if you're confused by all this, you aren't alone!  Joan Bauer, who excels at creating driven single-minded characters with quirky tastes, has created one of her most unfocused books.  There are any number of plotlines here and most of them unravel before the book is done (most notably, the potential mean girl and nefarious entrepreneur subplots which fizzle away, but even the human trafficking story never really crystallizes).  The end result is a story which never materializes, in striking contrast to Bauer's other novels.

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