"The Stranger Within Sarah Stein"
by Thane Rosenbaum;
Texas Tech University Press
ages 8 and older
By Alana Semuels
Los Angeles Times (MCT)
Young adult novelists are increasingly tackling darker subjects: kidnappings, drugs, rape. But few have delved into so many dark subjects as novelist Thane Rosenbaum, who ventures into YA territory with his latest, "The Stranger Within Sarah Stein," a novel revolving around divorce, Sept. 11, homelessness and the Holocaust.
What might be most odd about this combination of subjects is that the book isn't glum at all. Told through the eyes of the perky, bike-riding 12-year-old Sarah Stein, the daughter of a candy-making mother and an artist-painter father, it works as more of a fantasy than as a dark rumination on tragedy. There is sadness between the lines, but also a bright fairy-tale aspect, a kind of "Willy Wonka" meets "Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close."