Young Adult – Peace, Love, and Baby Ducks

Carly spent her summer working with a volunteer group in the mountains. She comes back home just before school starts with new muscles and a renewed determination to be “real”. She is startled to discover that her younger sister Anna has developed into a strikingly hot young woman while she is away. While the two sisters have always been close, Anna’s sudden physical development, her emotional need to grow, and Carly’s insistence on being “different” strain the relationship.

This book brilliantly captures the changes and changing relationships between sisters as they navigate high school. Carly is unwilling to admit that she is jealous of her younger sister, while at the same time Anna both craves and despises her older sister’s protection and respect. Carly is very well drawn, with all of the inherent contradictions of humanity. The author perfectly understands the many ways in which teenagers are still building their own sense of self-identity, and the ways in which a person can be trapped by an insistence on rebelling just as easily as they can be trapped by an easy submission to peer pressure.

The romantic angle of the book worked less well for me than did the relationship between the sisters. It was too clear to me from the start who Carly would end up with, and I also predicted some of Anna’s behaviors towards the end of the book. But then I am an adult and therefore not the target audience. I did particularly enjoy that Carly is well aware that it’s ridiculous that she is getting “stupid” about a boy, at the same time that she’s completely unable to help herself from doing so.

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