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Love Among the Walnuts    by Jean Ferris Amazon.com order for
Love Among the Walnuts
by Jean Ferris
Order:  USA  Can
Harcourt, 2008 (1998)
Hardcover, Softcover, Paperback
* *   Reviewed by Ricki Marking-Camuto

Jean Ferris's Love Among the Walnuts is one of those novels that flows so easily, it is over all too soon. However that, along with the humor, make it a great choice for busy teens who don't have much time to sit and read.

When millionaire Horatio Alger Huntington-Ackerman marries stage actress Mousey Malone, they decide to raise their son Sandy away from the hustle and bustle of Jupiter, Florida. Along with Horatio's valet Bentley and his soon-to-be-wife Flossie, they build an estate on a country road that has no other house except for Walnut Manor, a center for the mentally unstable rich. Their lives are peaceful out in the country, the only distractions being monthly visits from Horatio's brothers, Bart and Bernie, who are upset about how Horatio is handling his financial affairs.

Determined to get Horatio's money for themselves, the evil brothers give the family a poisoned birthday cake. Luckily, instead of killing them, it sends each of those who ate it Horatio, Mousey, Flossie, and their chicken Attila into a coma. With the help of a live-in nurse, Sunnie, Sandy and Bentley are determined to take care of their loved ones, who are forced to move into Walnut Manor. From the residents - who with Sunnie's help start to come out of their shells - Sandy realizes there is more out there than his peaceful country life. However, if he ever wants to see the city, he and his friends are going to have to stop the greedy brothers from carrying out their devious plans.

Like many main characters in young adult novels, Sandy grows up a lot and learns about others and himself in Love Among the Walnuts. Along the way, he makes new friends, and Ferris provides plenty of laughs to accompany his trials and tribulations. Ferris has a way with subtle humor and likable characters. However, her sense of time is a little lacking. At first I felt like I was reading a book set in the early twentieth century, but then computers were mentioned. When Sandy's family was poisoned, I assumed he was about twelve, but when he considered Sunnie attractive, I upped it to fifteen, which worked with him wanting to learn how to drive. But by then end, I realized Sandy must be the same age as Sunnie, who had to be in her early twenties since she went to nursing school. This confused me greatly and took away from some of the fun of the story.

All in all, though, Love Among the Walnuts is an enjoyable read. Jean Ferris keeps the story moving at a good clip, and the characters certainly are memorable.

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