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Bras & Broomsticks    by Sarah Mlynowski order for
Bras & Broomsticks
by Sarah Mlynowski
Order:  USA  Can
Delacorte, 2005 (2005)
Hardcover, CD
* * *   Reviewed by J. A. Kaszuba Locke

Sarah Mlynowski begins Rachel Weinstein's story: 'I've wished for lots of things in my fourteen years ... a boyfriend, world peace, cleavage. But none of my wishes come true. Until now.' Green suede designer sneakers? How did they get on her feet? Rachel ponders the latter as she stands near her school locker. Rachel is in love, heart divided between Raf Kosraui and Mick Lloyd, even though she's hardly spoken to either. Both are on the A-List too, as is Jewel, once a best friend. Rachel ponders, 'like blondes, the A-List always seems to have more fun.' Divorced Mom Carol has announced that Rachel's twelve-year-old sister Miri is a witch, the talent passed through the mother's genes. Yes, the type of witch with magical powers - able to will cooked lobsters back to life, and expand the lifeline of a goldfish. Rachel laments that the witch gene skipped her and inquires if she might come into her powers later. 'As with breasts, nature has decided I don't qualify,' thinks Rachel. She got the math aptitude, and Miri the magic!

Rachel and Miri travel by train from Manhattan to Long Island to visit Dad on alternating weekends. He's engaged to Jennifer, and the sisters are to be bridesmaids. Devastated by the pink gowns they are to wear, they're also subjected to Jennifer's 'mean streak' when Dad isn't around. They refer to Jennifer as STBSM, 'Soon To Be Step-Monster'. Miri's witch guide book is dubbed A squared for short - the full title is 'Absolute Reference Handbook to Astonishing Spells, Astounding Potions, and History of Witchcraft Since the Beginning of Time.' Mother's instructions are that Miri is NOT to practice any witch spells until after a year of study. But, Rachel is in a hurry to be on the A-List, to have a better developed body, for Raf and/or Mick to fall in love with her, and to gain a sense of rhythm for tryouts as a dancer in the upcoming fashion show. Miri and Rachel also plot to stop the wedding. Of course, there are repercussions to Miri's precocious use of magic.

The book hooks the reader from its first lines. Intermingled with this delightfully delivered, humorous story, are the underlying trials of teen years - growing up with divorced parents, making choices about loyalty and obligations in friendship, dealing with 'Best Buds' who come in and out of one's life, and coping with powerful cliques of schoolmates. Mlynowski has a talent for exceptional dialogue, empathy with the teen years, wit, and plot. I highly recommend Bras & Broomsticks whose open ending leads in to a planned 2006 sequel, Frogs & French Kisses.

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