Andy Szabo, the teenage New Yorker featured in It Happened at Cecilia's , returns in this sequel set during his freshman year. Andy starts dating a reserved Vietnamese-American girl, Kim O'Hara, about the time his parents buy a historically choice, but run-down townhouse in Greenwich Village. The building's restoration, which involves peeling layers of paint, wallpaper and tile, neatly parallels Andy's attempt to break through Kim's ``icy exterior'' in order to understand her fears and perfectionist tendencies. Readers may not be able to guess all the details about the girl's past before her secrets are revealed, but it is fairly obvious from the beginning that she has suffered wartime trauma. Tamar's foreshadowing is a bit overdone, and her presentation of Kim borders on the melodramatic; nonetheless, her descriptions of New York and its high school scene are vividly authentic. Ages 11-14. (Oct.)
Gr 7-10-- Andy Szabo was introduced in It Happened at Cecilia's (Atheneum, 1989), which focused on his relationship with his father and life in the New York City restaurant business. Now 15, Andy is realizing a dream by dating the aloof but beautiful Kim O'Hara. He and Kim are both very intelligent, but while Andy enjoys words and writing and lets most of his other work slide, Kim is an obsessive perfectionist in every area. Andy alternates between fascination with her and frustration with her incomprehensible discipline. As their relationship deepens, Kim is finally forced to reveal her ``truth.'' Mr. O'Hara had fathered a daughter in Vietnam, but could not locate her or her mother after the fall of Saigon. Five years later he returned to continue the search, and Kim's older brother presented his sister as the missing child. Ten years later, she knows what she did was wrong but cannot tell her ``father.'' As a result, she works compulsively as a form of atonement. In a sensitive manner, Tamar depicts Andy's reluctance to become involved in Kim's problems and to continue his relationship with such a troubled person. In the end they decide to remain close friends, but not to rush into anything more while she seeks professional help. The characters are well drawn. They are cosmopolitan but also very human. The setting is realistically detailed, and Tamar captures the feeling of city life as Andy and Kim wander around Greenwich Village and nearby neighborhoods. It is not important to have read the first book to enjoy this one. --Lucinda Snyder Whitehurst, County of Henrico Public Library, Richmond, VA
In this sequel to "It Happened at Cecilia's" (1989), 15-year-old Andy finally begins to date the cool, beautiful, Vietnamese-born Kim O'Hara
As the story unfolds in New York City, Andy, hormones raging, tries to get to know Kim and is discouraged at his unsuccessful attempts to break down her cold exterior. He begins to suspect that the facade she has built around herself is hiding the real reason for her strange behavior. Kim is attracted to Andy but seems to put on the brakes when he gets too close. In a parallel plot, Andy works with his dad and stepmother to uncover the beauty of an old, abused townhouse, restoring it to its original grandeur and making it their home. Andy struggles with his emotional and sexual feelings about Kim and other girls as he tries to define for himself a meaningful relationship. Through a series of activities--movies, dinner at his dad's restaurant, a wallpaper stripping party, volunteering at a shelter for the homeless--Andy comes to realize that the essence of a deep relationship is not just sex, but friendship. The story is compelling reading with a multicultural twist. Because of the double anticipation of finding out both Kim's true story and how Andy will deal with it, readers will find it hard to put this book down.