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Kathleen's Story: Angels in Pink    by Lurlene McDaniel order for
Kathleen's Story
by Lurlene McDaniel
Order:  USA  Can
Delacorte, 2004 (2004)
* * *   Reviewed by J. A. Kaszuba Locke

Kathleen's Story is the first in an Angels in Pink trilogy. McDaniel writes, 'I want kids to know that while people don't get to choose what life gives to them, they do get to choose how they respond.' Her story follows childhood friends Raina St. James, Holly Harrison, and Kathleen McKensie as they sign on for a summer volunteer program, named 'The Pink Angels', at Parker-Sloan General Hospital. Kathleen is torn between home and her outside life. She is the main caregiver to her wheelchair-bound mother, who has multiple sclerosis. When Kathleen was seven years old, Dad died in a car crash when hit by a drunken driver, and Mom spent months in the hospital recuperating from her injuries. While Kathleen struggles with guilt when she is away from Mom, Holly looks to the volunteer program as an escape from strict but devoted parents. Raina's interest in the medical field comes from her Mom, who is the director of nursing at the hospital.

Kathleen is assigned to the admissions office with clerical duties and responsibility for transporting patients. She meets attractive volunteer Carson Keifer, who attends the prestigious Bryce Academy. Others consider Carson self-centered, conceited, and unreliable. His parents, Christopher and Teresa Keifer, are cardiologists at Parker-Sloan General, a sister is an ophthamologist in Bosnia, and his brother is a medical resident in Detroit. Carson has no interest in medicine. Kathleen and Carson form a relationship, as he takes her out to dinner at the country club, and invites her to the Keifer residence. But there's a rival (so Kathleen thinks) in Stephanie, a drop-dead beautiful model with a 'brassy attitude', who seems to appear out of nowhere. Returning home after a date, Kathleen and Carson notice that all of the lights are off in the McKensie house. Rushing into the kitchen, they find Mom on the floor, with no pulse. As Carson administers CPR, Kathleen calls 911, and Mom is transported to the hospital. The events that follow are heartwarming, showing the love of Kathleen's friends, their parents, and people at the hospital.

This is a story about choices, supported by encouragement, by risk-taking, and most of all by best friends. The author includes information about multiple sclerosis, and cancer, the National Bone Marrow Donor Program, hospital routines, and medical procedures. Each Angels in Pink story ties together the three personalities, who are intertwined in each book. A chapter of Raina's Story is included at the end of Kathleen's Story, Holly's Story will follow. McDaniel's trilogy about popular Raina, perky Holly, and shy Kathleen will definitely appeal to the teen audience.

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