Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
"With evocative, vigorous prose," Cooney writes of a night of thrill-seeking gone wrong when a young mother dies as a result of a prank by three teenagers. "As convincing as it is believable," praised PW in a starred review. Ages 12-up. (Feb.)
The ALAN Review - Michaeline Chance-Reay
Two fifteen-year-old sweethearts, Remy Marland and Morgan Campbell, share the excitement of Driver's Education. They can't wait to get that all-important first driver's license. Rides through the countryside with their jaded teacher and various classmates inspire what they consider a harmless game. In reality it is an act of vandalism that ends in death. The adventure all too quickly has taken them from their innocent, invincible, childhood realm to the place called adulthood, where they are expected to be responsible for their actions. The tragedy brings out the worst and the best in both adolescents and adults. Their coping mechanisms reveal much. Caroline Cooney again tackles serious subjects while weaving a powerful plot together with realistic dialogue and characterization. Students ages twelve to eighteen, parents, and teachers would all learn from, and be moved by, this narrative.
School Library Journal
Gr 7 Up-Disinterested driver's ed teacher Mr. Fielding views his class as indistinguishable brainless clones. In order to keep them straight, he distributes name tags, and then calls out three lucky participants each day to go out on the road. Of course, the students are way ahead of him, and just exchange name tags whenever anyone wants a chance behind the wheel. Remy loves to drive, and she constantly trades tags with other girls. One night, she and a perspective love interest, Morgan, accept a class challenge to collect road signs, recruiting an older boy to drive. The expedition goes without a hitch- until they learn that a young mother has been killed at the intersection from which they have stolen a stop sign. The whole community is up in arms, and the grieving widower appears on TV with his son, offering a reward for information leading to the arrest of the vandals. Remy and Morgan are filled with remorse and guilt as their lives are turned upside down. Mr. Fielding, in a rare act of awareness, nearly accuses a different student of the crime because of the switched name tags. Both young people realize that they have to take responsibility for their actions and confess. Cooney uses her familiar fast-paced, conversational style throughout the novel. As the action intensifies, the sentences get shorter and more pointed. This stylistic device intensifies the drama and underlines the horror of the situation. Great literature this is not. However, the simple plot, told from Remy and Morgan's alternating viewpoints, is in no way simplistic, as it takes on sensitive issues and deals with them in a compelling manner. The overriding tension and the theme of an innocent prank backfiring into tragedy will attract teens and heighten the book's appeal.-Susan R. Farber, Chappaqua Library, NY
Here's a novel that really sneaks up on you. The dust jacket calls to mind paperback horror fiction, but the teenagers in this provocative investigation of moral responsibility don't turn into vampires or go berserk and attack their classmates. They do, however, cause a horrible death. Driver's ed class is pretty much of a joke. Mr. Fielding zones out when he's in the school car, and he's never sure who's behind the wheel. Even so, Remy Marland thinks driver's ed is great. It gives her a chance to hone her driving skills (by taking other people's turns) and to moon over Morgan Campbell. Morgan also likes driver's ed. For him, it's the perfect place to read car magazines, look at girls, and moon back. When the two agree to a nighttime escapade to rip off some street signs, their hormones and the thrill of the risk get in the way of their judgment. The subsequent death of a young woman, killed at an intersection from which they stole a stop sign, profoundly tests their feelings for one another and their ties with their families. The substance of the novel develops rather slowly. It's prefaced by some wry, irresistible scenes that replicate the exquisite tortures of high-school crushes while setting the stage for the tragedy. Then, with graceful ease, Cooney slips back and forth from Remy to Morgan, to give readers a glimpse of the different ways the teenagers handle their nightmarish burden and their families'--especially their mothers'--reactions. A poignant, realistic novel, with nicely drawn characters and a vintage metaphor that's actually refreshing: a driver's license (not first sex) is the "ticket out of childhood."
From the Publisher
“A wrenching, breathlessly paced plot and an adrenaline-charged romance make Cooney’s latest novel nearly impossible to put down. . . . This modern-day morality tale is as convincing as it is irresistible.”—Publishers Weekly, Starred
“A poignant, realistic novel, with nicely drawn characters.”—Booklist, Starred
An ALA Best Book for Young Adults
An ALA Quick Pick
A Booklist Children’s Editors’ Choice