Freeman, Martha. The Year My Parents Ruined My Life. Illustrated by Eric Brace. Holiday House, 1997. ISBN 0-8234-1324-1. $15.95. 184 pp. B 4-6 FI Reviewed by Sarah Fisher Kate is forced to do the absolute worst thing ever: move! She leaves sunny California, as well as her best friend, Molly, her gorgeous boyfriend, and her fifth-grade class. She is trading everything familiar for dreary, snowy, Belletoona, Pennsylvania. Luckily, she has “Operation Defrost.” Kate may hate everything about Belletoona, but as soon as she raises enough money she heads back to Isla Nada to live with Molly. When she finally gets there, California and her friends are not all they used to be. After going back home and making several friends in her new town, Kate decides that Belletoona isn't so bad after all. Freeman does a good job of getting into the mind of her main character. Kate's thoughts and feelings, as well as the dialogue between characters, are accurate and typical of fifth graders in the 1990s. However, some of the characters use too much California slang, which detracts from the story line. If you can get past the “chica's” and “like's,” it is a can't-put-down book sure to be enjoyed by fourth-or fifth-grade readers.
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