What to do when your new neighbor tries to bury you or your bike starts talking…

Guinevere St. Clair is always in some kind of pickle, which is probably why I liked her so darn much.

Reading the flap of this book almost made me not read it.  It describes a girl moving to Iowa after living in New York City, and her mother just happens to have amnesia. But then, where’s the challenge if your parents remember who you are, get up and go to work every day, and aren’t alcoholics, drug addicts or about to die?  Maybe I’m a wee bit cynical about this vein of storytelling.  Also, you just know Iowa is going to suck after subways and all kinds of cool city stuff.

Fortunately, I also read the back flap of the book, which led me to notice that Amy Makechnie is originally from Nebraska, so we’re practically neighbors, and she’d probably only make fun of Iowa if she hated growing up in the Midwest.  What the heck, I gave it three chapters.

And it is a delight.  Gwyn is a piece of work, but in a good way, and along with her little sister, Bitty, and the kids who hang around Gaysie Cutter’s house and the local bullies, you just know there will be shenanigans.  There is just enough action and crazy drama to keep things interesting and not make the situation of Gwyn’s mom so horrible.  Kids find a lot of ways to cope, after all, and Gwyn’s version seems to favor solving mysteries and standing up for herself.  Superb.

If you like this one, you might also like The Adventures of a Girl called Bicycle by Christina Uss.  Bicycle (the girl) takes a trip ON a bicycle across the country by herself, hoping desperately to meet her biking hero in San Francisco.  She meets a lot of quirky and good folks as she winds her way across the U.S. and is sometimes trying to avoid being captured by responsible adults and a few potentially evil folks as well, which keeps things interesting.  I found the main character’s name being “Bicycle” more annoying or confusing than cute or funny, and it’s sort of an odd book, but it’s worth a look if you favor a unique sort of road trip.

The Unforgettable Guinevere St. Clair by Amy Makechnie

The Adventures of a Girl called Bicycle by Christina Uss.


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