One Amber Too Many:
From the author of Gaia’s Gift, The Book of Mysteries and Reflections comes a One Amber Too Many a story that will definitely touch hearts and hit home with many young people. Award winning author Fran Orenstein introduces us to Gillian and Marcus Sandler.
Sometimes the world looks like a huge dark cloud and at other times an angry animal waiting to be let out of a cage. Many times children find themselves wanting to just hide under a rock, run away and find their own space or just get a hug from the two people that are supposed to care for them. Parents are human and make mistakes. Kids don’t see it that way. Family members have a certain allegiance to each other but what happens when that changes? What happens when one parent finds himself/herself searching for more than what he/she receives or has within the walls of his home? What happens when one parents feels like running away and does? Children suffer, the spouse left behind often deals with the fall out. Almost like the aftershocks of an earthquake or huge tidal wave that has taken the lives of so many and left destruction and despair in its wake. Gillian Sandler is our narrator, She is nine years old and her voice is heard loud and clear as she relates the events that led up to her finding out that her father was going to divorce her mother for a much younger woman. While Gillian finds herself wrapped in a world of anger, unhappiness and feels that her mother has turned into an evil, wicked witch, she fails to see the sadness, the unhappiness and the fear within her eyes as she realizes what this divorce means to not only her but her two children too. But, like some parents, her mother seems to be reverting into herself, forgetting to deal everyday matters leaving both Gillian and Marcus to fend for themselves.
Sisters and brothers have a gift and take relationship at times and of course insults, small fights and definitely annoying each other is often the norm. Both Gillian and Marcus’ lives will now change but he seems to be handling it better. When Gillian learns just who her stepmother is going to be she decides to devise a plan to break up the relationship and make sure that her father’s plans go awry and that her soon to be stepmother never gets that title. Imagine her father marrying his secretary. Neither Marcus or Gillian understand why this is happening and like most kids they are afraid, scared that they will lose their father to this other woman. Making it even worse her name is Amber, which is the name of half of the girls Gillian’s soccer team.
What happens when their mother becomes more of a recluse forgetting to do the everyday things they have always counted on her to do? No more clean laundry. No more cooked meals and definitely no more hugs. Divorce is horrific and many kids do not realize that it takes its toll on the parents too. Parents like Gillian’s mom become so wrapped up in their own sorrows and fears they forget about or do not realize how this is impacting her children. But, things change and situations lend themselves to making her mother more aware of what is happening to Gillian. But, you know kids and they are often resilient but in this case Gillian is working hard to find a way to get rid of Amber B. The B stands for you have to figure that out for yourself. Trying to cope with her mom’s mood swings, dealing with her father’s affection in public for Amber, Gillian still manages to save the day at the soccer team and helps get the win. Gillian decides that no matter what Amber B does she is not going to accept her. Trying to talk with her, dealing with her and Marcus at the same time the situations are often comical and the end result well you have to read it to appreciate what happens when poor Gillian plays soccer with a uniform that has not been laundered and the end result is more than anyone can bear at dinner.
Ruining her father’s relationship has become her full time quest or job. Going out of her way to be rude to Amber B comes easy at times. Wait until you hear what Gillian tells Amber is the real definition of her name. Added in both Gillian and Marcus team up and hopefully will convince her that going on Thunder Dome was dangerous and she better hope she won’t fall out. No matter how hard she tried her plans backfired. But, when she gets locked in the amusement park you have to hear her thoughts, words and feelings about her situation. What happens and why she gets locked in you will have to learn for yourself and just who insists that she did not run away you won’t believe. There is much more that author Fran Orenstein brings out in this outstanding book that can be used by both parents and guidance counselors to talk about divorce, how kids handle things when parents break up and what they think of Gillian’s reaction to Amber B.
Sometimes things work out in your favor and sometimes they don’t One Amber Too Many features a nine –year –old girl who is relentless, smart and not adaptable at times to change who learns many hard lessons before all is said and done. So, who are the other Ambers that she meets and befriends? Just what is the Amber Club and can a girl named Gillian join?
As Gillian finally realizes the end result and you hear her voice loud and clear as she and her father finally have a much-needed talk, you begin to realize that some things will change and others will not. Will she ever accept Amber B? Will her mother ever smile again? What will happen if her mother meets someone? Will he accept both her and Marcus? Divorce is hard. Children are affected and the seriousness of it often impacts in many ways on all of the family members.
How do you teach kids that divorce is not their fault and that sometimes parents need to move on in order to live their lives and move ahead? Not an easy concept to grasp or teach. As you hear Gillian’s voice and you begin to understand her fears, her anger and feel the heat of her tears as they stream down her face you hope that someone that loves her will be there to dry them.
What is next for Gillian? Will she get rid of Amber B? Only author Fran Orenstein knows what’s next for Amber and lets hope she writes a sequel so we find out: One Amber Too Many: Or is there Room for One More? Once again award winning and best selling author Fran Orenstein tops the charts and writes a YA book not only for Young Adults and Teens but also as a resource for teachers, parents, clergy and for guidance counselors to use in group discussions. It would be interesting to find out what kids think of how Gillian handled some of the situations in this story? It might be interesting to know how they would have handled some of the same situations and whether they think Marcus was really on her side? The issues are many: divorce, betrayal, anger, fear, frustration, loyalty, love and most of all friendship. This is one book that I have to say that both boys and girls will enjoy reading, as the boys will definitely identify with Marcus and the girls with Gillian. Stepparents get bad press and not all are really wicked. Sometimes you just have to give those Ambers a chance.
Fran Lewis: reviewer
Let’s Give this book: FIVE Amber Rings