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Foreign Exchange: A Mystery in Poems


In the latest book by award winning poet Mel Glenn, a riveting mystery unfolds through a series of poems. When students from big-city Tower High School spend a weekend in rural Hudson Landing with the students of the local high school, an African-American boy from the city is accused of murdering a local white girl. Young adults will eagerly read the poems to try to piece together clues and discover the killer's identity.

The author weaves a compelling story as he explores ...

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1999 Hard cover New in new dust jacket. Sewn binding. Cloth over boards. With dust jacket. 144 p. Audience: Children/juvenile; Young adult. Hardcover dj, new book, never been ... read, excellent condition! ob Read more Show Less

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In the latest book by award winning poet Mel Glenn, a riveting mystery unfolds through a series of poems. When students from big-city Tower High School spend a weekend in rural Hudson Landing with the students of the local high school, an African-American boy from the city is accused of murdering a local white girl. Young adults will eagerly read the poems to try to piece together clues and discover the killer's identity.

The author weaves a compelling story as he explores racial prejudice and city/country stereotypes while creating insightful portraits of teenagers.

2000 Quick Picks for Young Adults (Recomm. Books for Reluctant Young Readers)

A series of poems reflect the thoughts of various people--town residents young and old, teachers, and some students visiting from the city--caught up in the events surrounding the murder of a beautiful high school student who had recently moved to the small lake-side community of Hudson Landing.

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Editorial Reviews

Cheryl Karp Ward
Not all of the council members in the small town of Hudson Landing agree to host a group of city teens for a weekend. Some fear that the streetwise urban youth will bring drugs and crime into their fair hamlet, a Peyton Place of secrets, while some hope the weekend will promote a better understanding of diversity. But when seventeen-year-old Kristen Clarke, the beautiful, popular – and pregnant – white daughter of a successful supermarket manager, is found strangled and floating on Hudson Lake, all fingers point to visiting African American Kwame Richards. Although Kwame swears that he is innocent, it seems that being black often means being guilty until prove innocent. Only a photograph of the true killer frees him.

This latest mystery in free verse poetry by Glenn provides an honest glimpse into the feelings, frustrations, and fears of adults and teens as they attempt to deal with their lives. Alcoholism, teenage sexuality, and pregnancy are ever-present issues affecting both adults and teens in Hudson Landing. The town doctor secretly arranges adoptions as a solution. Numerous prejudices are also revealed and demonstrate the ridiculousness of stereotyping. City kids think country kids marry their sisters, chase pigs, and wear no shoes. Country kids think city kids beat up their sisters, run from the “pigs,” and wear combat boots. Glenn's subtlety shows that color has no barrier when one feels disappointment or abandonment or watches dreams drift away. As with other books by Glenn, this one will appeal to readers interested in this particular format, especially our reluctant young adult audience.

Children's Literature - Betty Hicks
Tower High School's city kids are invited to spend the weekend with Hudson Landing's rural kids. The local townspeople's misgivings are confirmed when one of the students is murdered. Although titled a mystery, the examination of racial and social prejudice overshadows the puzzle of discovering the killer. It is more predominately a story of troubled youth living in a seemingly model small town that is hiding deep-seated problems. Similar in format to Making Up Megaboy, the drama is revealed through multiple single-page vignettes representing the points of view of students, the town constable, the doctor, city council members, and others. This work, however, is much more detailed, and each account is told in free verse with a realistic punch that is powerful in its simplicity. Teens will relate to these discontented kids living in a town which has let them down, but the absence of happiness in anyone's life is disturbing and, perhaps, unrealistic. The unmasking of the conflicted lives, however, is as absorbing as the telling is inventive.
School Library Journal
Gr 6-10If only this book had ended with a dwarf dancing in a red velvet room, the mysterious similarities to Twin Peaks could be recognized as artful parody or even homage. Here, a group of city students spend a weekend in a rural town on an exchange program designed to expose them to different lifestyles and examine country/city stereotypes. When one of the local students is murdered, the search for her killer forces the town to confront other issues including racial prejudice. The authors heavily expository poems are usually in the form of a monologue expressing either a characters thoughts or a bit of conversation, but rarely demand much from readers. Glenns style is a kind of quick-sketch shorthand that is the literary equivalent of the two-minute caricature bought at an amusement park. At first glance, the selections appear to have captured characters but on closer examination they are stereotypes who never come to life. As poetry or mystery, this title is a disappointment.Herman Sutter, Saint Pius X High School, Houston, TX Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Glenn returns to the site of the climactic tragedy of Jump Ball (1997) with this dark "beer and babies" view of life and death in a small town. Kristen Clarke, daughter of the new supermarket's manager, is 17, blonde, beautiful, and pregnant; by the time her strangled body is found in the lake, there are a host of suspects, from jealous or horny classmates to members of a busload of weekend visitors from urban Tower High. As usual, the tale is presented by its cast in a series of free verse conversations or ruminations, as young people describe their personal worlds, older adults express a range of attitudes toward teenagers, and nearly everyone holds some stereotypical views. After the murder, the townsfolk are quick to focus their suspicions on Tower student Kwame Richards—" 'cause I'm black, right?/They want to pin this on me, don't they?"—until another teen comes forward with a photograph of the real killer (an alcoholic local merchant being driven under by the new supermarket) in action. Sinking the plot even further beneath its issues is the revelation that the local doctor has been running a baby farm, with teen mothers as the donors. The "mystery" is really just a pretext for a series of ironic character portraits, and as types, most of the narrators will be familiar to readers of Glenn's other books. (Fiction. 13-15)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780688164720
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 5/28/1999
  • Pages: 144
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.25 (h) x 0.64 (d)

Meet the Author

Mel Glenn is the author of eleven books for young adults, including Foreign Exchange (Morrow), Jump Ball (Dutton), and Who Killed Mr. Chippendale? (Dutton), which was nominated for the prestigious Edgar Allan Poe Award of the Mystery Writers of America. He has received the Christopher Award and the American Library Association has recognized many of his titles as Best Books for Young Adults. In addition, the American Library Association named Who Killed Mr. Chippendale? one of the Top Ten Books of the Year.

Mr. Glenn teaches English at Lincoln High School in Brooklyn, New York, where he and his wife, Elyse, live. They have two sons, Jonathan and Andrew.

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Read an Excerpt

Kristen Clarke

I chase the horizon once more,
Looking for what lies over the next hill.
I seem to be driving much too fast these days,
Not slowing down for school, friends, or family.
I am in such a rush to leave this town
That I skip the landmarks of my own life,
Preferring my own company to that of people
I have known for the past six months,
Ever since my father made us move here
After he and my mom got divorced.
Oh, I know the names they call meSnob, Ice Princess, Tease, and worse-

But I can't hear them above the whine of the tires.
I am thirty miles out of town in a second.
I am flying with the wind, trying to catch up.
One day I'll really leave this town for good
And not limp back, ashamed, to Hudson Landing,
After nightfall.

Foreign Exchange. Copyright © by Mel Glenn. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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