Tuesday, July 29, 2008


Fifteen-year-old Sandpiper Hollow Ragsdale was named after the place her parents first met and fell in love. Unfortunately, her parents are now divorced and her mother is engaged to another man.

Ellen Wittlinger’s Sandpiper starts a few weeks before the wedding, weeks full of turmoil for Sandpiper. First, her soon-to-be stepsister comes for the wedding, and she appears to be practically perfect. Second, Sandpiper’s bad reputation starts to haunt her. Her “ex,” Derek, becomes obsessed with enacting revenge on Sandpiper and her family. Third, Sandpiper meets “Walker,” an anonymous young man who spends his days wandering the streets.

The book is frank about Sandpiper’s sexuality. Although technically a virgin, she is known for “putting out” for multiple boys. However, it is also clear that Sandpiper’s sexual acts are far from liberating and are, instead, motivated by self-esteem issues. She enjoys the power she holds over males but instantly regrets her involvement with them.

Sandpiper is a certainly not a light teen read. Instead, Wittlinger shows that life is complicated for everyone: Walker has a secret that constantly torments him, the step-sister has father issues, and even the wedding’s maid-of-honor can’t handle her weight problems.

This book is not exactly an enjoyable or upbeat read, but Wittlinger boldly tackles topics relevant to many teens and even adults, and I give her credit for that.

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