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Raina's Story: Angels in Pink    by Lurlene McDaniel order for
Raina's Story
by Lurlene McDaniel
Order:  USA  Can
Delacorte, 2005 (2005)
* * *   Reviewed by J. A. Kaszuba Locke

Raina St. James drives Kathleen McKensie, and Holly Harrison to Cummings High School for the first day of their junior year. The three friends will be receiving extra study credits for their continuing volunteer work in the 'Angels in Pink' program at Parker-Sloan Hospital. The hospital assignments place Kathleen in the library, Holly in the children's ward, and Raina in the newborn nursery. They already learned the Volunteers' Creed during the summer: 'I will pass through this life but once. If there is any kindness I can show, any good that I can do, any comfort that I can offer, let me do it now, for one day I will be gone and what will remain is the memory of what I did for others.'

Kathleen has been living with Holly's family while her Mom is in hospital after recuperating from a heart attack. Carson, met in Kathleen's Story, comes home for Labor Day weekend and invites Kathleen to his home for a barbecue. She enjoys the company of Carson and his physician parents, until her nemesis, gorgeous Stephanie Marlow shows up and difficulties ensue. Holly's activities are restricted by her parents until she reaches sixteen in May. She yearns to go out on a date. Holly is welcomed into the children's ward, where she's 'a natural' at interacting with the young cancer patients. One evening an email appears on her computer monitor, 'Hello, If I could have one wish, it would be to spend one day of my life with you ... Maybe someday, my wish will come true. Shy Boy'. Holly replies, but the messages stop at school's year-end.

Raina learns that ex-boyfriend Tony Stoddard's back in town. Inevitably, they cross paths, affecting Raina's relationship with Hunter, who pulls away from Raina and accepts early enrollment in Bible school. The hospital notifies Raina that she is a perfect match for a bone marrow transplant to a leukemia patient in Arlington, Virginia, and Vicki, Raina's mom, tells her daughter secrets from the past. Raina's work in the nursery involves a preemie baby born with vast medical complications, and she muses, 'Annie's breath fluttered on Raina's cheek ... Her universe had been these four walls. She had never seen sunlight, felt the wind, smelled flowers ... she was like flecks of sunlight on a garden wall, dancing shadows ... a flower, stunted and shriveled in its first bloom from a final wintry blast.'

Lurlene McDaniel's Angels in Pink episodes are written as stand-alone stories, that weave highlights from the previous book for continuity. Raina's Story is the second of three books that offer suggestions on how teens can help make a difference in the 'real world'. Holly's Story comes next in October 2005. Teen readers will relate to the emotions surrounding loss and relationships, and to Holly's words, 'what helps us all be friends? ... We're alike, but we're different too.'

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