The Blonde of the Joke

Bennett Madison, Author . HarperTeen $16.99 (272p) ISBN 978-0-06-125560-1

Madison's (the Lulu Dark series) surreal novel elevates suburbia—and the mall in particular—to an almost mythic status, at once mundane and rife with potential. Timid high school student Valentina's life changes dramatically when new girl Francie flounces into class wearing a lime green “whore's raincoat,” meant to cover up the aqua tube top and gold hot pants she's wearing underneath (“Francie was that kind of girl. Blonde. Big boobs. Total slut”). Francie, a force of nature, befriends Val, giving her an exuberant new look, teaching her to shoplift and awakening a whole other side of the girl. But exterior radiance doesn't mask the inner problems both girls wrestle with. Madison's dreamlike prose imbues the most ordinary of moments with cosmic significance (“At the mall, in the beginning of October, there was this whiff of something: like newness, or the future. Or maybe I was just mistaking the smell of Cinnabons and makeup”). It can occasionally feel like the story is about to sink under the portentousness of it all, but it's more likely that readers will soak up every bit of it. Ages 14–up. (Sept.)

Reviewed on: 09/14/2009
Release date: 09/01/2009
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Open Ebook - 272 pages - 978-0-06-194812-1
Peanut Press/Palm Reader - 272 pages - 978-0-06-194816-9
Ebook - 272 pages - 978-0-06-194813-8
Ebook - 272 pages - 978-0-06-194814-5
Ebook - 272 pages - 978-0-06-194818-3
Library Binding - 272 pages - 978-0-06-125561-8
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