Reviews for Chasing Orion

Booklist Reviews 2010 April #2
Proving that YA fiction will eventually tackle every conceivable kind of befriending, this thoughtful novel details the relationship between 11-year-old Georgie, her older brother, Emmett, and their new neighbor, Phyllis--a polio victim encased within a 1,200-pound iron lung. Georgie considers Phyllis a freak before being taken in by her striking beauty and bold manner. In fact, Georgie encourages the budding romance that blossoms between Phyllis and Emmett. But soon she changes her mind--even trapped inside a metal cylinder, Phyllis manages to come off as both threatening and manipulative. Set in 1952 Indianapolis amid the height of polio panic, Lasky's story dispatches all gimmickry as it grows ever darker. Though the story is somewhat hobbled by purposeful dialogue and leaden metaphor, Georgie's transformation from Archie comics daydreamer to reluctant hero is convincing, as are her natural interests in clothing, popularity, and sex. Was the iron lung a medical miracle or a high-tech coffin? The answers make for a unique and unsettling read. Copyright 2010 Booklist Reviews.

Horn Book Guide Reviews 2010 Fall
During the 1950s polio epidemic, eleven-year-old Georgie obsesses about the disease. Imagine her fascination when her new teenage neighbor, Phyllis, is in an iron lung. But is Phyllis a helpless prisoner, or is she like a spider reaching out for prey? While the historical setting may be foreign to today's readers, Georgie's loneliness and her search for answers are universal. Copyright 2010 Horn Book Guide Reviews.

Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2010 #4
During the height of the 1950s polio epidemic, Georgie obsesses about the disease. She knows the symptoms (all three stages); tallies the number of new cases in her hometown; and notes the deaths. Imagine her fascination when her family moves and she discovers that her new teenage neighbor, Phyllis, is in an iron lung. At first Georgie is curious, then she's thrilled to be part of Phyllis's environment-one in which this beautiful girl manipulates a set of mirrors that define her line of vision and her world. Georgie builds dioramas of miniature scenes as a hobby, while her brother Emmett, an amateur stargazer, studies the night skies. In a powerful series of metaphors, Georgie crafts her worlds, Emmett observes the universe, and Phyllis is trapped in hers. But is Phyllis a helpless prisoner, or is she like a spider at the center of a web reaching out for prey? Does she want more from Georgie than friendship and more from Emmett than mere flirtation? Georgie wonders, and with a voice slightly older than her eleven years, debates scientific progress and questions whether an iron lung saves or traps a life. While the historical setting may be foreign to today's readers, Georgie's loneliness and her search for answers are universal. Copyright 2010 Horn Book Magazine Reviews.

Kirkus Reviews 2010 April #1
It seems unfair to 11-year-old Georgie Mason that in Indiana's summer heat she can't go swimming or even to the movies for fear of catching polio. It is "simply and horribly unbelievable," however, that her teenage neighbor Phyllis is living in an iron lung, viewing the world through mirrors like Tennyson's tower-bound Lady of Shalott. Georgie's struggle with the cosmic implications of her neighbor's plight--and her rising fear that Phyllis might be seducing her brother Emmett into helping her die--form the core of this gut-punching, often very funny novel that asks serious questions about our corporeal selves, faith, power, alienation, euthanasia and, it being 1952, the relative importance of saddle shoes. Lasky creates an unusually credible, likable 11-year-old voice and expertly maps Georgie's emotional terrain, a rich landscape shaped by literature and peppered with sound bites such as "I was very malaised" and "I like reasons for stuff." A truly extraordinary page-turner that embraces life's big and small aspects with humor and a healthy respect for its profound contradictions. (Historical fiction. 11 & up) Copyright Kirkus 2010 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

School Library Journal Reviews 2010 June

Gr 6-10--During a hot summer in 1952, 11-year-old Georgia Louise Mason's family moves to a new neighborhood in Indiana. Her brother, Emmett, loves astronomy and basketball and doesn't mind, but she misses her old friends, though everything has changed since the outbreak of polio. She keeps track of the numbers of new cases from newspaper accounts; she has a grim fascination with this frightening killer disease. She is no longer allowed to swim in public pools or go places where people gather, such as movies. She befriends Phyllis, who lives next door and is in an iron lung; the teen is smart and beautiful, but her body has been decimated by the disease. Phyllis becomes Emmett's first love, and together the three young people form a special bond, though only Georgie sees what no one else is willing to accept: that Phyllis wants to escape the prison of her iron lung and will manipulate Emmett to achieve her goal. The sophisticated and insightful narration unfolds as if told by the 11-year-old, though it is revealed that an adult Georgie is looking back on this time in her childhood. Her observations about her family, Phyllis and her family, polio and its impact, friends, and more are beyond those of most preteens, though her fascination with mythology and how it is played out in astronomy are used effectively to reflect drama of that period in Georgie's life. Sophisticated readers will appreciate learning what happens to the likable, sometimes quirky, complex characters.--Maria B. Salvadore, formerly at Washington DC Public Library

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