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Sunday, June 26, 2011

Lexie, written by Audrey Couloumbis and illustrated by Julia Denos. Random House, 2011. $17.99 ages 8 and up

"Here's a horrible thing about
boys. They leave toilet seats
up and a person can fall in if
she's not careful, especially in
the middle of the night.
Here's a horrible thing about
Ben. He walks around while
he's brushing his teeth in the
morning, sort of foaming at the

Here's the amazing thing about Audrey Couloumbis. She tells stories that grab at your heartstrings and bind you to her wondrous characters from the first page to the last. You are often so enamored of them that you don't want to put your book down until the story is told. That is exactly how I feel about Lexie. Her story is poignant, heartbreaking and hopeful...all in one book.

Lexie is a young girl with much on her mind. Her mom and dad are recently divorced, and this summer vacation at the Jersey Shore is the first she will spend alone with her father. Well, at least, that is what she thinks. In this quiet exploration of the aftermath of divorce and a pending remarriage, Audrey Couloumbis gently explores how children are affected.

She is not keen to leave her mother behind but realizes this is her new reality. She assumes that this year will be the same as all other such vacations...without her mother's presence. She doesn't know that her father has invited his new 'friend' and her sons to join them. Lexie knows about new friends. Her mother is dating George and Lexie likes him. He treats her mother well, and her mom seems happier now. When Vicky, Ben and Harris arrive, Lexie is not sure what to expect. Ben and Harris are a challenge, each in their own way. As the week passes she comes to enjoy their company for many reasons.

That doesn't alter the fact that her father knew no way to approach the subject with Lexie, and she is in limbo about the mixed feelings she is having. Lexie's voice is so strong in this first person narrative. We are aware of the gamut of emotions that she feels as she tries to deal with anger, sadness, apprehension, love and uncertainty. But, as she spends time every day with this 'new' family she begins to accept their place in her life. She is surrounded with supportive adults and two other children who are trying to find ways to cope with their changing circumstances, too. Realistic and sensitive, this book might help readers who are dealing with similar situations.

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