Izzy, a popular, active cheerleader, happily accepts a date with an attractive senior she doesn't know well, flattered to be noticed by him. At the party her date drinks too much, insists on driving her home anyway, and smashes the car into a tree. Marco suffers only surface wounds, but Izzy's leg is crushed and has to be amputated just below the knee.

During her weeks in the hospital Izzy finds that not only is her whole physical orientation to the world required to change--she suddenly sees every path in terms of obstacles--but her relationship to family and friends changes, too. Her three closest friends begin to avoid her, uncertain what to say or how to include her in their plans. In the meantime Rosamunde, a marginal classmate whose slightly unkempt appearance and quirky behavior makes her entertaining, but excludes her from the "in" crowd, moves into Izzy's world with curiosity, frankness, inventive amusements and a steady, if offbeat compassion.

In her impassive and demanding African American physical therapist Izzy discovers another unexpected source of comfort on terms she doesn't at first recognize as kind. As the story ends, Izzy is back at school, finding her way into a new, more challenging relationship to her body and her peers, and a friendship with Rosamunde unlike any she's known before.


This compelling novel draws characters well, avoids sentimentalizing the protagonist, and introduces a number of unexpected events and encounters in the course of recovery and reorientation that may provide rich material for discussion. Izzy's experience leaves her not just "sadder but wiser," but also cannier about social politics, more discerning about her family's strategies of control and coping, and more open-hearted about the possibility of relationship with people she once might have dismissed.

It treats loss with understanding, gentle humor, and honesty. Not all problems are resolved by the end, but the story leaves Izzy equipped to cope with what will continue to be hard.


Fawcett Juniper

Place Published

New York



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