A Closer Look

A Closer Look
Age Range
Release Date
July 01, 2011
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Freshman year is going well for Cassie, a standout sprinter who is about to move up to varsity; school has been fine, her best friend Tara is also running track, and Tommy, that cute sax player she likes has asked her to come see his band rehearse. But in a matter of weeks, Cassie has a secret she is trying to hide from everyone. Her hair has started falling out, and she s doing everything possible to keep it from showing. When her parents tell her it happened to her once before, at age 3, she s horrified, and a trip to the dermatologist confirms what she has been afraid of: that all of her hair may fall out. She has alopecia, and there s no known effective treatment. Cassie eventually gets a wig when she can no longer disguise the truth, and she finally confides in Tommy about it. But when he starts being standoffish and avoids her, she feels betrayed. Then, at a track meet, Robin, her rival on the team, exposes her secret to the whole crowd. With her worst fears realized, will Cassie ever be able to face her classmates, her teammates, and most of all, Tommy?

Editor review

1 review
Overall rating
Writing Style
There are a lot of great YA's out there, but it has been a long time since I read one as hard-hitting and in-your-face as A Closer Look.

In A Closer Look, by Karen DelleCava, freshman Cassie Donovan is having a great school year. She's reasonably popular, her natural talent gets her tapped for the varsity track team, and she has a burgeoning relationship with adorable and musically-talented Tommy Sweeny - who is, of course, to die for. Things couldn't be better...until the morning Cassie wakes up to find her hair all over her pillow.

Cassie has a medical condition called alopecia, but that's not the biggest shock. The biggest shock is when she discovers that she has had it before, only she was too little to remember. Now suddenly her life is as unrecognizable as her reflection in the mirror. She loses more and more hair, Tommy becomes stand-offish, and Cassie's mother does nothing but cry all day. And to make matters worse, a certain member of the varsity track team who sees Cassie as competition laughs at her worsening condition and whispers behind her back.

All Cassie wants is for things to be like they used to, but she gets the opposite. Her once fairly carefree life is now all about personal courage, self-acceptance, and the very real possibility of having to purchase a brand new wig.

A Closer Look is a sweet and touching book about a very real problem that does not necessarily have a happy solution. The prose is realistic and age-appropriate, and is laced with a certain type of humor that only teenagers can understand. The pacing is steady enough to keep the book moving, and the unrelenting tension caused by Cassie's hair loss makes the reader feel they're right in the doctor's office with her. In short, the book is full of characters you'll care about and events that demand your attention.

Highly recommended!
Good Points
The characters are realistic and sensitive.
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