Sunday, March 1, 2009

TOUCH by Francine Prose

Sorry, there's no cover art available yet for TOUCH by Francine Prose, but I recommend it as a good read no matter what they decide to do with the cover. Prose is the author of such YA titles as AFTER and BULLYVILLE, and TOUCH is sure to please her previous fans and help create new ones.

TOUCH is the story of trauma and its ability to manipulate the truth. Maisie has three very good friends - Shakes, Chris, and Kevin. They've been friends since preschool, and even though this friendship between one girl and three guys may seem strange to some, it totally works for them. That is it works until the year Maisie goes to live with her mom and stepdad.

After a bitter divorce that started with Maisie's mother leaving her husband to find a different life, Maisie has lived with her dad and Joan, his new wife. Uncomfortable with her stepmother, Maisie decides to spend her 8th grade year living with her mother in Wisconsin. As with many such experiments, Maisie learns the grass is not always greener on the other side, and she returns to live with her father when the school year is over.

Things would probably have just gone back to normal, except while living in Wisconsin, Maisie has blossomed as a young woman. She returns feeling the same but looking a bit different. She has boobs. Her three childhood friends have changed a bit as well. They now have a young man's appreciation for things like boobs. Although they try to resume their friendship as before, it is strained at best.

Maisie and Shakes have always had a special bond. When school starts in the fall, they find themselves boarding the bus first. As the only two people riding for a good twenty minutes, they head to the back seat. Amazingly, they are able to remain seated there even when the seniors climb aboard. As the weeks pass, Maisie and Shakes stumble across a way to pass the time before the other students are picked up. It begins with experimental kissing and soon turns into twenty minute make out sessions. They are very careful to time their groping to end just before others begin to board the bus, but one day they are caught. It is quite a shock for everyone, but especially for Chris and Kevin who never thought about Maisie as girl friend material.

Once the secret is out, the friendship takes a turn that shocks the entire school community. Maisie has become the subject of cruel gossip and speculation because she seems to have allowed the three boys to stray beyond the bounds of decency. What really happened in the backseat of the bus? Can Maisie really remember things objectively, and can her life ever return to normal?

Francine Prose takes readers into the mind of a confused young girl. Maisie is trying to justify her actions and the decisions that led to those actions. She battles her angry feelings toward her friends, her parents and stepparents, her fellow classmates, and herself. Coping with trauma and moving on are the central issues of TOUCH. Teens will no doubt see a bit of themselves and also their peers when they read about Maisie's ordeal.


Beth Kephart said...

How was the writing in this book? I've found some of her later titles to feel stale.

Readingjunky said...

I found it pretty smooth reading. As I read I tend to imagine things through the eyes of my students, and I think they're going to do ok with it.

Stephanie said...

Oh my! This sounds interesting. I wasn't all that into Bullyville, but I was totally sucked in by After. I'll watch my library for this after it comes out. Thanks for the great review.

Readingjunky said...

I agree - I really liked AFTER but was as into BULLYVILLE.