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Children's LiteraturePart of the "Orca Surrounding" series, this text is designed to appeal to struggling readers by providing a high-interest story at a lower reading level. Although the novel is likely to be most appreciated by middle and high school readers, the reading level falls at 3.6. Frances, the novel's protagonist, works the graveyard shift at the local convenience store. She does not mind the slow pace, as she uses the time to practice her drawing in preparation for going away to art college the following year. Frances dates Leo, a high school hockey player and fix-it guy who fears losing her to someone more creative and academic. One night, while she tries without success to capture the image of a bag of cheese doodles on the shelf, she meets Devin, a young man who, from the start, strikes her as unusual in a disconcerting sort of way. Devin claims to be the abandoned son of a local celebrity back in town to confront his father. Frances soon finds herself running into Devin wherever she goes—at work, at school, even at the fabric store. She realizes something is amiss, but her attempts to tell Leo her concerns are thwarted when he finds a photo of Frances and Devin planted in Frances' locker. Frances finds herself alone and trapped in the back of the store one night, as Devin tries to woo her with a roasted chicken served on a cardboard box table. With her cunning and courage, she fights back and escapes, and the truth is revealed. Despite the plot-driven nature of the novel, Grant does a fine job of creating characters that are memorable and richly described in few words. Frances' musings about love, family, career, even life and death provide meaty issues to discuss with young readers.2005, Orca, Ages 12 to 17.
—Wendy Glenn, Ph.D.