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Qualey, Marsha. Just like that.

QUALEY, Marsha. Just like that. Penguin, Dial. 233p. c2005. 0-8037-2840-9. $16.99.

Qualey is a successful novelist and her previous YA books have appeared on lists of best books--this one almost surely will as well. She doesn't shy away from complexities, even moral ones, and her thoughtful characters, adults and teenagers, work through the difficulties in their lives as well as they are able; the solutions to their problems are not easily resolved. Hanna, the artist and narrator, decides at some point in the story to become a set designer because she is tired of working alone; Qualey creates a story that has an ensemble of characters, each one authentic and fascinating--Hanna isn't alone.

A tragic accidental death brings two families together. Hanna was the last person to speak to the teenagers before they drowned in the lake; and Will was the one to discover the body of the dead girl hours later. Hanna and Will find solace together, but soon realize their love relationship is doomed because Hanna is so much older than Will. Will has older sisters, one a successful lawyer; the other, Aerin, is a brilliant musician. Aerin knows too much herself about survivor's guilt, because of a car accident she caused, and Hanna becomes friends with her. Also an important part of the story is the friendship Hanna shares with two girlfriends; when they betray a long-established trust by telling their boyfriends Hanna's secrets, Hanna walks away from them. Even though she is frequently confused and stubborn, she is intelligent, highly creative, and independent.

This is definitely a story that will engage older YAs--Hanna is 18 years old and finishing high school. Sophisticated younger YAs, who can manage the few sex scenes, will also appreciate this thoughtful, engaging novel. Claire Rosser, KLIATT

J--Recommended for junior high school students. The contents are of particular interest to young adolescents and their teachers.

S--Recommended for senior high school students.

*--The asterisk highlights exceptional books.
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Author:Rosser, Claire
Article Type:Book Review
Date:May 1, 2005
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