Abby Shapiro distracts herself from her miserable home life by designing clothes. When her alcoholic father moves out, Abby’s mother, already in pretty bad shape, gets even worse. Abby works through her difficulties during that tumultuous time by pouring her heart out about her family in letters to Jacqueline Kennedy, wife of Senator (and presidential hopeful) John F. Kennedy. In her chatty letters, she tells Mrs. Kennedy about school, her friends and the Jewish holidays and she encloses sketches of outfits she has designed especially for her. Though Abby is disappointed not to get any response, she continues writing and designing. Axelrod’s vivid description of Abby’s difficult home life is painful to read and readers will feel great sympathy for her. Her family’s prejudices, all too common in that period, may be jarring for some modern readers. Nonetheless, Abby is an engaging girl, trying hard to get by and readers will be nearly as pleased as Abby when her situation finally starts to improve. Recommended for ages 11 – 15.
Marci Lavine Bloch earned her MLS from the University of Maryland, a BA from the University of Pennsylvania and an MA in English Literature from Fordham University. She has worked in synagogue and day school libraries and is currently finishing her term on the Sydney Taylor Book Award Committee.