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'All We Know of Heaven'

By Jacquelyn Mitchard

Harperteen, $16.99

Jacquelyn Mitchard's first young-adult novel fictionalizes a story from actual headlines. In the past few years there have been anguishing cases of mistaken identities after a car accident.

Several times teens were so badly injured that their faces were unrecognizable, and one set of parents buried the child they thought was theirs, only to get a call later telling them their child was the one in the intensive care unit.

Mitchard proves herself adept at plot. She also writes well about brain injuries and about teens who lose sleep over love.

Her descriptions of girls' friendships are less well-done. Also, the mother and sister of the dead girl are more like caricatures than characters. As for the number of sexually active teens in the typical suburban high school, well, that part of Mitchard's plot is probably accurately drawn. —Susan Whitney

'Pardon My French'

By Charles Timoney

Gotham, $20

This book, subtitled "Unleash Your Inner Gaul," is devoted to the belief that "the French you learned at school won't get you far."

The author is an Englishman who married a French girl 25 years ago, then moved to France. He recounts with insight and wit the many mistakes he made as he tried to fit into French culture.

One thing helped his morale — he kept a list of certain words or phrases that sometimes "wickedly" epitomized some elements of the French culture and were only used by native speakers.

He had a hard time, too, with the government body, "L'Academie Francaise," devoted to preserving the sanctity of the French language. —Dennis Lythgoe

'Collateral Damage'

By Chris Hedges and Laila Al-Arian

Nation Books, $22.95

Chris Hedges is former Middle East Bureau chief for the New York Times, and Laila Al-Arian is a freelance journalist living in New York City. In this book they describe the conditions of civilian life in Iraq since the United States began the war.

Through extensive research, including interviews with eyewitnesses, they have concluded that tactics such as home raids, convoys, patrols, detentions and military checkpoints have turned many Iraqis against the U.S. military.

The authors further contend that much of the worst aspects of the war are carried on out of view of journalists and television cameras. —Dennis Lythgoe