Juliet is passionate about acting and has been given the chance to star as the lead role in the play Northern Lights (based on Philip Pullman's The Golden Compass). But at home, her life is not so happy. Her family starts to disintegrate after her father suddenly and unexpectedly leaves home. What exactly is Juliet’s relationship to her flamboyant actor uncle? And what terrible secret is her mother hiding? This is a moving and powerful story of one girl’s search for her own identity, deftly contrasted with the glamour and excitement of the theater.
British author Weatherly packs this first novel with an eyebrow-raising story line. Thirteen-year-old Jules can't believe that her loving father would simply walk out after a particularly angry fight with her mother and not even leave a way for Jules to reach him. In between landing the role of Lyra in a theatrical production of Philip Pullman's Northern Lights (aka The Golden Compass) and having troubles with her best friend at school, Jules slowly learns the truth. Shortly before Jules's parents' wedding, her mother had had a one-night stand, resulting in Jules's conception, and her father has only just found out. Furious, he sues for damages, including the costs, with interest, that he has incurred in bringing up Jules. The case appears in the paper with Jules's identity masked as "Child X"; shortly thereafter, a newspaper reporter interviews Jules about her role as Lyra, and Jules improbably reveals that she is Child X. Soon Jules is at the center of a media circus, and her plight only worsens when she flips on a TV talk show just in time to watch a guest inform viewers that Jules's natural father is in fact her uncle. Despite the thematic layering (Lyra, too, has been repudiated by her parents), the author's small scope and contrived plotting keep this tale on the level of soap opera but while the handling is jejune, the subject matter seems better suited to adults than middle-graders. Ages 9-14. (June) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.