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4.2 8
by Kevin Brooks

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Magical realism and gritty mystery meet in Brooks's provocative dissection of family, friendship, and faith. "A tense psychological thriller...hard-hitting."--Publishers Weekly Dawn Bundy lives in a cave. In her head. Where's she's been hiding for two years. Hiding behind headphones. From the two hottest girls at school, in their impossibly short skirts and


Magical realism and gritty mystery meet in Brooks's provocative dissection of family, friendship, and faith. "A tense psychological thriller...hard-hitting."--Publishers Weekly Dawn Bundy lives in a cave. In her head. Where's she's been hiding for two years. Hiding behind headphones. From the two hottest girls at school, in their impossibly short skirts and unbearably tight tops, their skin close enough to touch. Not talking to her mother, not about what matters. Not thinking of her dad, the drug addict, the ex-con, born-again but far gone. Two years is a long time. Enough for the cave to grow so small that her breath feels like stone in her throat. Two years is no time at all. Nowhere near enough to forget. To pretend that nothing happened. Deep one perfect morning.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Brooks (Black Rabbit Summer) delivers a tense psychological thriller narrated by 15-year-old Dawn, traumatized after an event that prompted her father to disappear two years earlier and left her with an alcoholic, pill-popping mother. A loner, Dawn walks her dogs Jesus and Mary, listens to the Jesus and Mary Chain, and plots how she might kill God (who she blames for her father's transgression and absence) even though “He doesn't exist. Which is why it's going to be kind of difficult to kill him.” The “two badass-iest girls from school” insert themselves into Dawn's life and begin to untangle the web of secrets that keep Dawn and her mother in stasis. Dawn's narration, punctuated with lists and song lyrics, proves compelling as the mystery unravels about her father's crimes, what transpired between Dawn and her father, and what her mother knows about it. Brooks presents the story's dark underpinnings—including substance abuse, drug dealing, and sexual abuse—responsibly and with suspense. Though this hard-hitting novel does not deliver happy endings, acceptance of the truth offers the characters a new beginning. Ages 14–up. (Dec.)
VOYA - Beth E. Andersen
Fifteen-year-old British teen Dawn Bundy is a touching contradiction—she is part self-described lumpish Baal of fury (she wants to kill God) and part loving, caregiving daughter to her single mother who is lost to alcohol most of the day. Abandoned by her druggy, religiously fanatical father three years earlier, Dawn is a loner with an enormously awful secret. Dueling conflicts abound. The Bundys live in a modest home filled with electronic gadgetry paid for by a trunk full of hundreds of thousands of pounds—and a gun. Dawn's father left those things behind after he did something horrific to her and yet she wants him back home. Although Dawn's secret is awful, it is not a surprise. She copes, thanks to her sharp intelligence, her feisty spirit, and even her admirable dose of humor and tenderness. When two cool, tough girls befriend Dawn, she knows they are using her, yet she goes along with them anyway, not realizing that the father of one of the girls is gunning for the Bundy women to get his stolen drug stash back. The shocking outcome leaves the reader reeling. Provocative, bleak, compelling, and somewhat open-ended, this novel will appeal to those who admire unexpected strength in victims who push back mightily against being victimized. Reviewer: Beth E. Andersen
Children's Literature - Jody Little
Dawn Bundy is a troubled teen who lives in virtual solitude. She has no friends, a depressed and alcoholic mother, and a father who disappeared and has not been heard from in the last two years. Dawn spends her time with her two beloved dachshunds, Jesus and Mary, and listens to songs by her favorite band, The Jesus and Mary Chain. She takes care of her mother and does the shopping using the large, mysterious stash of money hidden under a floorboard in her mother's room. When two of the hottest girls in school begin to give Dawn some attention, Dawn is confused, yet flattered by their interest. The girls, Mel and Taylor, bring vodka to Dawn's house and try to get Dawn to drink on several occasions. On the night they are finally successful, Dawn reveals information about her father that she has kept a secret for over two years. Mel admits to Dawn that she and Taylor were using Dawn to get information. She warns Dawn that she is in danger. Taylor's father, a drug dealer, has just been released from prison and plans to come after Dawn's father and the stash of money which he believes is hidden in Dawn's house. The climax of the novel is both tragic, yet filled with hope for both Dawn and her mother. Through Dawn's brutally honest and heart-breaking voice, the author weaves a complicated story of family, drugs, sexual abuse, and loneliness with themes of forgiveness and self-respect. Reviewer: Jody Little
Kirkus Reviews
Dawn Bundy wants to kill God. The 15-year-old knows it's an impossible task, but she blames him for her ex-con, drug-dealing father's final addiction to religion, his inexcusable act that forced part of her mind to retreat in a cave and his disappearance two years ago. She also hides her alcoholic mother, possible attraction to girls and her father's duffel bag full of money and a gun behind baggy, shapeless clothes and a dingy apartment, describing her life in an irreverent, edgy, first-person narration laced with dark humor and guiding lyrics from '80s band The Jesus and Mary Chain. Questions about religion and sexuality turn to mystery when the two most popular girls at high school take a sudden interest in socially awkward Dawn and a delivery van appears to be following her. Complete answers to these questions are sacrificed to create a rushed, gut-wrenching conclusion sure to shock readers. Even when Brooks is not at his best, however, he still produces compelling fiction that will leave teens clamoring for his previous titles. (Mystery. YA)
School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up—Fifteen-year old Dawn Bundy wants to kill God. Her home life makes the reasons for her disillusionment clear. Two years ago, her drug-dealer and ex-con father abruptly abandoned the family after falling under the twin sway of religious fanaticism and substance abuse, and Dawn now serves as caregiver for her mother, who has turned to alcohol and prescription pills to cope with her pain. Dawn seems to have mostly numbed herself to the trauma of her father's disappearance and the events that led up to it, spending her time walking her dogs, Jesus and Mary, and obsessively listening to the band The Jesus and Mary Chain. And somehow Dawn and her mother have held on financially, living on cash left behind by her father. When two tough, popular girls unexpectedly befriend her, she finds herself unavoidably swept up in their efforts to make her over into a "cool girl" like them. She knows they're using her somehow, but she has no idea how sinister their motives really are. Despite her outward passivity, Dawn is bright, strong-minded, feisty, and extremely funny—the kind of character that teens are likely to connect with immediately. The story's dark themes—including religious fanaticism and sexual abuse—are also likely to appeal to eager readers of the "problem novel" genre. Some students may be puzzled by the questions Brooks leaves unanswered, including the ambiguous ending, but this is a provocative and compelling read for fans of suspense thrillers and realistic fiction alike.—Meredith Robbins, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis High School, New York City

Product Details

Scholastic, Inc.
Publication date:
Sold by:
Scholastic, Inc.
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File size:
417 KB
Age Range:
14 - 18 Years

Meet the Author

Kevin Brooks is the groundbreaking author of the internationally acclaimed novels DAWN; BLACK RABBIT SUMMER; BEING; THE ROAD OF THE DEAD, a Mystery Writers of America "Edgar" nominee; CANDY; KISSING THE RAIN; LUCAS; and MARTYN PIG, which received England's Branford Boase Award for Best First Novel. Brooks lives in Yorkshire, England.

Brief Biography

Date of Birth:
March 30, 1959
Place of Birth:
Exeter, Devon, England
B.A. in Cultural Studies, Aston University, 1983

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Dawn 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 8 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
When I went to B&N I didnt know what I was in the mood to read so I was browsing around when I saw Dawn, I thought it looked interesting so I picked it up and read the inside cover. And then it really got my interest. So I bought it and within the firt couple pages I was hooked. I could not put it down, it kept me really interested through the entire story. I thought the book was very emotional and real. I would recommend this to anyone who loves Ellen Hopkins books or anything realistic.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I saw it on the shelf and thought it was interesting. I read the first page and immediately was hooked. Great plot, good characters, and great description.
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TeensReadToo More than 1 year ago
Dawn Bundy has set out to kill God. She is not exactly sure how to go about it, but she is sure it's the only answer. Two years ago her father disappeared. It's not that it was a terrible loss. He was a drunken drug addict and pretty worthless as far as she could tell. However, since he disappeared her mother has fallen apart. She spends her time in front of the TV usually drunk and zoned out on her antidepressant meds. Dawn goes to school and then comes home to hang out. She spends her free time listening to music and snuggling up with her two dogs. Their life isn't perfect, but thanks to her father, she and her mother have money. He left behind a duffel bag full of money. The gun also left inside the bag suggests the money was from some drug deal, but whatever the case, they have used it wisely as they wait for his possible return. Dawn describes herself as having another Dawn trapped in a cave inside her mind. That other Dawn is hiding from something she doesn't want to remember. Even though Dawn tries to carry on and push aside her memories, they eventually catch up with her and pull the inner Dawn out into the light of day. Author Kevin Brooks exhibits his unique talent to get inside the psyche of his characters. Through Dawn, readers will live her fears and frustrations as she deals with her alcoholic mother and repressed memories of her absent father. As the layers of her character are peeled away, her story becomes deeper and darker. Readers will feel her desperation, yet sense the underlying hope that drives her. Fans of Kevin Brooks will want to check out his latest.