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Doherty, Berlie. Holly Starcross.

DOHERTY, Berlie. Holly Starcross. HarperCollins, Greenwillow. 186p. c2001.0-06-001341-9. $15.99 J

Doherty is a popular writer for YAs in England, and this book is set there (and was first published there). I'll get the strikes against it out first: the cover art is unimpressive; the basic premise of a child separated by divorced parents with no legal action intervening is hard to believe. Once past those obstacles, however, the reader is treated to a moving, dramatic story about an intelligent girl anyone would enjoy knowing.

Holly lives a comfortable life with a mother who is a TV personality and a stepfather who is a TV producer. She adores her baby sister, who we later learn has Down's Syndrome, and she tolerates her bratty twin siblings. She has dreams of another life, but this life exists vaguely in her memory and in her daydreams-her mother never speaks of Holly's real father or the life before. The only person she confides in is her friend Zed, on e-mail, a person she has never met. When a man appears in town asking about her, she knows instinctively he is her father, and when she actually sees him, and sees that she looks quite like him, curly black hair and all, she gets into the car with him and he takes her to the farm home with the horses and grandparents who had existed only in her hazy memories. The identity of her e-mail friend Zed is revealed, and we see this is the key to her reunion with her father. Eight years of loss is the result of Holly's parents' inability to communicate and cooperate. They get together to discuss Holly's future and the immediate result is astounding--and then the final resolution makes a lot more sense.

YAs will be intrigued by the what-if quality of this story--what if I were taken away from the only home I knew to a new home where no one speaks of the past? What if one day my father were to disappear from my life and no one explains where he is? Doherty offers a rather lame excuse in the plot for why the parents never discuss custody or visitations--that the father doesn't want to involve the court in what he sees as a family problem. Since the courts are involved in any divorce, this doesn't make any sense, especially since he yearns for his child whom he adores. The details of life in England will be of added interest to American readers.
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Author:Rosser, Claire
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Jul 1, 2002
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