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One Whole and Perfect Day

by Judith Clarke

Published by U.S. edition: Front Street / Boyds Mills Press, 2007
250 pages
ISBN: 1932425950

Age 13 and older

At sixteen, Lily is the most responsible member of her family, a burden she is tired of bearing. Lily’s mother is consumed by her work with older adults—work she sometimes brings home in the form of weekend guests like the elderly Mrs. Nightingale. Her brother, Lonnie, has drifted from one plan for life to another, annoying their stern grandfather to the point of disowning him. Her grandmother, Nan, seems to be getting a bit flighty, which doesn’t bode well for the big party she’s planning. What Lily doesn’t know is that Lonnie has a new girlfriend, Clara, and his life suddenly has new focus. Clara is estranged from her overbearing father and meek, mild mother and may finally be finding the courage to pursue the course of study she loves rather than the one she was pressured to take. Clara’s Chinese mother and Lily’s racist grandfather are strangers, but their chance encounter has left an impression on them both. Judith Clarke once again moves in and out of the lives of a host of captivating characters, mapping extraordinary connections and moments of transformation. Everything is significant in Clarke’s tightly plotted, heartening story, and that’s part of the point. So, too, is understanding that the journey beyond pain or uncertainty, bitterness or anger, toward happiness begins by taking a risk and opening one’s heart, and by being true to what’s inside.  © Cooperative Children's Book Center

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