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Kimberly L. PaoneHomeschooled by his mother since second grade and recently abandoned by his father, fifteen-year-old Paul must learn to adjust to his new life. This adjustment includes living in a small, low-rent apartment and attending the prestigious Gate-Brickell Christian School, where his mother has just taken a job. Paul's lack of a trust fund gets him shunned by his snobby, spoiled classmates, and he is subjected to cruel practical jokes until Charlie Good, the golden-boy tennis star at Gate, befriends him. Charlie first tests Paul's loyalty by challenging him to destroy mailboxes, then by persuading him to drink and steal, and finally by convincing him to use his mother's office key and his computer expertise to change one of Charlie's grades. Paul continues to follow Charlie's lead while simultaneously being pulled into a dangerous, complicated web of lies and bomb-making Internet sites.
Paul's struggle with his situation at home, his turmoil at school, and the painful realization that his relationship with Charlie is not as it seems, help to paint him in a sympathetic light, but Paul ultimately must pay a high price for acceptance and popularity. Not since Cormier's The Chocolate War have characters been drawn to be so brilliantly twisted. Flinn's flair for creating disturbing characters in completely realistic situation is uncanny and leaves the reader thinking of Columbine and other school violence incidents whose perpetrators could have been quite similar to Charlie and Paul. This timely, engaging book is certain to grab the interest of teens. 4Q, 4P, J, S.
—Voices of Youth Advocates