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Reviewed by Jean Hall for Readers' Favorite
The burden of achieving social acceptance and outward, physical beauty can be crushing for a teenage girl. But then there are the victories, both small and large; little feats of independence and larger, inward self-acceptance. Jacquelyn Eubanks in The Last Time showcases a sympathetic and beautiful soul with her heroine Charley. Charley (which is short for Charlotte) has been transplanted from rural Georgia to the more sophisticated suburb of Yonkers, New York.
Although she was born in Yonkers, her experience is decidedly Southern. She has left her heart in Georgia and his name is Frankie. But the fledgling couple keeps in touch as pen-pals in the post-war innocence of the 1950s. Charley loves baseball, it is true. She is a tom-boy, no doubt about it. But all the appealing attributes of Charley make her an object of jealousy with the popular clique at her new, all-girls Catholic high school.
Jacquelyn Eubanks keeps the story of Charley lively but with some heartbreaking moments. Charley does find unusual courage in the midst of adolescent taunts. The scenes at Charley's home keep the innocent plot well-grounded. There is mother-daughter friction and a grandfather's illness. The book has some nice visual elements. There are clumsy, hand-written notes from Charley and Frankie, as well as elegant, cursive chapter headings. The setting of the 1950s is a nice choice to show this bobby-soxer's life at home and at school. The Last Time by Jacquelyn Eubanks shows the strong but tender heart of a girl who feels the grief of last times, but with the hope of new beginnings.