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Girl, (Nearly) 16: Absolute Torture    by Sue Limb order for
Girl, (Nearly) 16
by Sue Limb
Order:  USA  Can
Delacorte, 2005 (2005)
Hardcover, Paperback, Audio, CD
* * *   Reviewed by J. A. Kaszuba Locke

From page one, Sue Limb tumbles the reader into hilarity in her sequel Girl, (Nearly) 16: Absolute Torture to Girl, 15, Charming but Insane. I enjoyed her pungent humor, as in 'the floor of her room was covered with a kind of lasagna of clothes, CDs, books, and empty chocolate wrappers.' Limb's description of the English countryside is akin to a travelogue: 'the ocean was vast and shimmering... masts dipping and bobbing... sunlit meadows, cuddly hills, higgledy-piggledy whitewashed lanes of St. Ives, and the red soil of Devon'.

The Jordan family is back, and the continuing story of dramatist and heroine Jess begins in a blazing frenzy. Jess and Fred Parsons are now an item. They enjoy picnic lunches daily under a different tree, bus trips, prances through forests and on beaches, walking hand-in-hand, goodnight kisses - oh, how romantic! Jess's philosophy includes 'If you want to get fit, don't join a gym - fall in love.' Alas, Mum (Madeleine) ruins it all, 'absolute torture'! (She doesn't know that Jess and Fred are mates, as Mum isn't too fond of men at this point.) Madeleine suddenly announces a car trip. The itinerary includes overnights at Bed and Breakfast accommodations, historical visits to literary spots such as novelist Thomas Hardy's grave, plus treks through abbey ruins and botanical gardens.

Mum, Jess, and Granny will travel to Cornwall, rounding off the tour with a visit to Dad's (parents are divorced). Jess, who has not seen her Dad in months and has never been to his seaside home at St. Ives, looks forward to seeing him. As for lovable Granny, she is still addicted to catastrophic news stories from around the world. And, yes, Granny still has Grandpa's ashes, which she plans to scatter over the ocean. Jess's vivid imagination conjures all sorts of situations, as she worries about what Fred will be doing while she's away. She's anxious that cleavage-laden females he'll meet as a waiter will lure him away from her lurve. Also, it was not long ago that her best friend Flora indicated an interest in Fred. Jess worries that 'Fred will be in the grasp of gorgeous Flora, and most likely unable to resist her charms and beauty.'

Flora, Fred, Jess, and Dad keep in contact by mobile, and misunderstandings abound. Jess has a surprise visitor on her arrival in St. Ives, while Dad has a long-kept secret to tell her, which puts a damper on Jess's plans to get Mum and Dad back together. Sue Limb continues Jess Jordan's trials and tribulations in this sequel. She answers many left-over questions from book one, and offers wholesome new adventures, entertainment, and celebrations. This is another winner, a mirthful yet heartfelt teen drama about the agony and ecstasy of first love, the relief of coming clean of secrets, seeing people in a different light, and 'a Jess revelation' that Mum and Granny were once sulking teenagers, too. Bring on book three please!

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