by Sara Ryan
Penguin USA, 2001
Review by Jodi Forschmiedt on Apr 23rd 2004
teenager Nicola (Nic) attends a summer enrichment program for the ultra-bright.
She intends to use her time discovering whether or not she wants to pursue
archaeology as a profession, but instead finds herself embroiled in an
on-again, off-again romance. Sounds normal, except that the object of Nic's
affection is another girl, Battle Hall Davies.
surprised by the sudden appearance of her homosexual proclivities, Nic accepts
it without much anguish or introspection. In contrast, Battle seems tormented,
though not necessarily because of her relationship with Nic. The other teens
in their social group barely bat an eye at Nic's and Battle's mutual
attraction. After some predictable pushing and pulling back, including Battle
deserting Nic to date a boy, Nic gets to the root of Battle's issues.
this reviewer is too old to have a handle on current teen attitudes about
homosexual peers, but the easy acceptance Nic and Battle receive strikes me as
implausible. The author may have intended to suggest that a group of gifted
kids would be more tolerant than average, but in fact the dynamic between the
advanced abilities of these kids and their relationships with each other gets
no attention. Side plots about other students at the summer program also
ignore the psycho-social aspects of giftedness.
perhaps the author meant to foster tolerant attitudes among her readers by
presenting characters who embody them. If so, it comes across as disingenuous.
The youngsters in the story are much too nice. Being gifted doesn't make one
immune from prevailing cultural forces.
her story in the first person present tense, which gives the tale a compelling
immediacy. Diary entries are interspersed with the narrative, giving the
reader an additional window into Nic's thoughts. She's a likeable character and
her voice sounds authentic, at least to my middle-aged ears.
of the World contains no overt sexual behavior beyond kissing, and would be
appropriate for any teen. Author Sara Ryan is reportedly at work on a sequel.
© 2004 Jodi Forschmiedt
Jodi Forschmiedt reads, writes,
and teaches in Seattle, Washington.