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Sammy Keyes and the Art Of Deception

Review

Sammy Keyes and the Art Of Deception

For Samantha Keyes, a.k.a. Sammy, life is never quite ordinary. Instead of living with her parents, Sammy is living illegally in a senior citizen's high rise with her grandmother. Her mother is off being an actress in Hollywood and, for now, Grams's apartment is the only home Sammy knows.

The whole confusing mess begins when Sammy's art teacher gives her an assignment to go out and look at art and write about it. She tells her seventy-something friend Hudson about it and, before she can catch her breath, he has bullied her into going to an art gallery event with him. Grams, Hudson and Sammy are not impressed by most of the art they see at the gallery. Then they come face to face with some paintings that Hudson and Sammy can't take their eyes off of. Sammy is astonished at how much the paintings move her and how much they make her want to keep looking at them. She has discovered that art is more than decorating a room. It is meant to elicit a response, to make you think about yourself and discover things.

It is while Sammy, Grams and Hudson are at the art gallery that a most bizarre thing happens. A masked man comes charging in and threatens the gallery visitors with a gun. The man takes some of the paintings and is on his way out of the gallery when Sammy tackles him. She realizes that the so-called 'gun' is of the water squirting variety. Unfortunately, the thief breaks free and is gone.

Sammy and Grams soon find themselves trying to figure out why the paintings were stolen. Hudson upsets Grams by falling for the painter of the wonderful pictures, Diane Reijden. Everything seems to get more and more confusing. Grams is upset, Hudson is smitten and Sammy is trying to find some answers.

To add to this already boiling cauldron, Sammy is having trouble at school with her archenemy, Heather Acosta. The two girls hate each other and Heather takes a perverse pleasure in persecuting Sammy. Topping everything off, Sammy is finding that she is having the most peculiar feelings for Heather's brother, Casey. Can this mess be unraveled?

Woven into the various plots of this funny and interesting story are several threads that make up Sammy's discovery about herself and others. Sammy begins seeing the adults in her life in a different way, in a way that makes them suddenly less alien and more approachable. She sees that having gray hair and a pension don't make a person old in spirit, only old in age. Grams can be very young inside when she lets herself go a little and Hudson can still fall in love.

Wendelin Van Draanen has created a wonderfully entertaining story with quirky language and colorful images, one that takes you inside Sammy's thoughts and feelings. We are able to see how Sammy manages to pull all the pieces together to make a whole picture and how she learns that so many so-called "absolutes" are not absolute at all.

Reviewed by Marya Jansen-Gruber on April 8, 2003

Sammy Keyes and the Art Of Deception
(Sammy Keyes #8)
by Wendelin Van Draanen

  • Publication Date: April 8, 2003
  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
  • ISBN-10: 0375811761
  • ISBN-13: 9780375811760