Checkersby John Marsden
She lives in the best suburb. She goes to the finest school. Her family is wealthy and powerful. She has everything money can buy. So why are there reporters outside her house? And why is her father telling lies on television? And why is the Premier talking about them in State Parliament? Something is wrong. Something is terribly wrong. Riveting and compulsively readable, John Marsden's Checkers plunges us deep in the mind and world of a teenage girl whose life has spun completely out of control.
"There are some things that once you've lost, you never get back. Innocence is one. Love is another. I guess childhood is a third. I've lost all of those, these last few months. I don't know how to replace them. I don't know if there is anything that can replace them."
The heroine of Checkers is a 15-year-old girl incarcerated in a mental institution. We don't know her name, nor do we immediately know why she has been institutionalized. What is made clear by her first-person narrative, however, is that she is an extremely intelligent, sensitive teenager who is not innately imbalanced, but who has been driven to her emotional undoing.
Hers was once an enviable world of money and privilege, gleaming with surface perfection. Her father, director of a large financial corporation, afforded his family the "right" house, two BMWs, designer clothes, and only the best of everything. Their lives were utterly controlled and polished, making the night her father brought home a non-pedigreed, rambunctious puppy all the more remarkable. It was the only time she could remember her father doing something "unpredictable and different." Making the puppy's arrival (whom she names Checkers because of his patchy coat) even more memorable, it coincides with her father's closing of an extremely lucrative, high-profile business deal.
Checkers unfolds slowly as the narrator shares alternately her current emotional struggles and her reflections on the events leading up to her incarceration. The other patients in her ward and therapy group are also young and not beyond hope: Among them are Daniel, an obsessive-compulsive; Esther, who believes a furry animal lives in her head; Emine, a who fears school; and Oliver, an anorectic. But although her peers discuss their problems and concerns freely in group sessions, she is unable to speak. However, her raw internal monologue details the unraveling of her once tautly constructed world.
When her father's business deal falls under investigation shortly after its completion, her world becomes murky. Reporters begin camping outside their home, her mother sleeps all day, and the kids at school behave strangely around her. Ultimately her father is implicated in an enormous insider-trading scandal that reaches to the highest level of the Australian government.
The only pure thing remaining in her life is Checkers, a dog who becomes not only a beloved pet but also a symbol of goodness in a world that lacks integrity at every turn. As the order and manicured beauty of her parents' world crumbles, the narrator marvels at the wonderfully simple attributes of her flawed canine: "But no, he was no genius, Checkers. What he had, and what I loved about him, was his happiness, his friendliness, his loyalty. He bounced through life, looking for another adventure, another game, another person to lick and fuss over. Those crazy black and white squares: you could see them a mile away, spreading chaos and confusion." She could never have anticipated that Checkers would also be the catalyst for the shocking climax of her father's professional scandal.
Often poignant and sometimes brutal, Checkers is unsparing in its exploration of adult corruption in the face of youthful hope and idealism. It is certain to leave an indelible impression on its readers.
Isabel Rifkin is a freelance writer living in New York City.
- Random House Children's Books
- Publication date:
- Edition description:
- Product dimensions:
- 4.20(w) x 6.90(h) x 0.39(d)
- Age Range:
- 12 - 17 Years
Meet the Author
John Marsden’s highly praised series concludes in this thrilling installment that will bring readers to the edge of their seats and keep them there until the last page is turned. John Marsden is one of Australia’s best-known writers for young adults. His work has received critical acclaim and has earned a cultlike following worldwide. The popular Tomorrow series has been translated into seven languages and has sold over one million copies in Australia alone.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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I read this book not understanding it at all. All the buisness stuff is really confusing. And I HATED the ending. It was such an awful book.
i read this book and i didnt stop at all. i read it till i was done. It was a great book to get your hands on. Go out and read it!
Is the book good for younger teens? Looks kind of weird, but might be good?
Never read it but it look good
it was really confusing untill the end, though it was way worth it, everything clicked at the end, ive read it once and i deff. want to read it again