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Children's LiteratureFourteen-year-old Marc Solie's life has been in a downhill spiral since his younger sister died of cancer. His family was shattered as his bereaved parents separated and he was left with his distraught mother, who was courted by a pushy insurance salesman with no need for Marc. Thanks to the insurance salesman, Marc ends up at a boys' work camp, one reminiscent of Louis Sachar's Holes. He runs away when he fears that he has killed a counselor, albeit in self-defense. The book opens with Marc on the run and his story is told in flashbacks, which somewhat dampens the urgency of his escape. Nevertheless, the tale is a gripping adventure and a good read. Marc himself is a sympathetic character and his fall from grace is well documented, believable, and thoroughly understandable. Less understandable is his inability to get in touch with his father, who obviously loves him, even though it is explained that his father was busy taking care of his ailing grandmother. While Marc and his family's characters are well developed, the villain himself is not particularly ominous until the final event, where Marc feels the need to use deadly force. Occasionally, the dialog does not ring true for adolescent boys, but otherwise the story is believable and compelling. 2004, Atheneum Books for Young Readers/Simon & Schuster, Ages 12 up.