Freeze Frame by Heidi Ayarbe | Hardcover | Barnes & Noble
Freeze Frame

Freeze Frame

4.8 20
by Heidi Ayarbe

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No matter how many times Kyle rewrites the scene, he can't get it right. He tries it in the style of Hitchcock, Tarantino, Eastwood, all of his favorite directors—but regardless of the style, he can't remember what happened that day in the shed. The day Jason died. And until he can, there is one question that keeps haunting Kyle: Did he kill his best friend on


No matter how many times Kyle rewrites the scene, he can't get it right. He tries it in the style of Hitchcock, Tarantino, Eastwood, all of his favorite directors—but regardless of the style, he can't remember what happened that day in the shed. The day Jason died. And until he can, there is one question that keeps haunting Kyle: Did he kill his best friend on purpose?

Debut novelist Heidi Ayarbe delves into the depths of the human psyche as Kyle wrestles with inner demons that make him wonder whether the world will ever be okay again—or if the best thing to do is find a way to join Jason.

Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Amie Rose Rotruck
Kyle's life is changed forever the day his best friend Jason dies. Everyone wants answers from Kyle, but he has none to give. All he remembers is Jason, himself and the gun. Kyle tries to recover his memory by writing the scene over and over again in the styles of different directors, but with each re-write, he finds himself no closer to the truth. Although he is only given probation by the courts, everyone has their own idea as to how accidental this death was. Through numerous rewrites, advice from one of his teachers, and befriending Jason's younger brother, Kyle manages to finally write the truth about what happened. While a book about this subject matter could easily verge into the sensational, Ayarbe has created a rather realistic voice and plot about a situation that, sadly, is not that uncommon. An excellent book for teens dealing with violent events, but also a well-written story with a very realistic voice. Reviewer: Amie Rose Rotruck
KLIATT - Ashleigh Larsen
Kyle thinks of his life through the eyes of a movie director—but the scene he's directing is the most important moment in his life and he can't seem to get it right. Did he kill his best friend on purpose? One minute, Kyle and his best friend Jason are trying to keep from freezing in the late fall frost; and the next, he's holding a gun and Jason is bleeding to death right in front of him. Kyle keeps replaying the scene in his mind, trying to figure out what exactly happened. He tries writing it in the styles of his favorite directors—Hitchcock, Tarantino, Lynch—but he still can't remember all the events of that morning. When a strange librarian, nicknamed Scarface, offers a safe haven from bullies and treats Kyle like a decent human being, Kyle thinks he might be able to move on. But will he ever be able to recall what really happened? Would he be better off joining Jason? The brutal mental and emotional battle that Kyle suffers will be relatable on many levels to a broad range of YAs. Seeing Kyle handle tragedy, depression, and suicidal thoughts from inside his mind is a fresh angle on topics many teens experience. Ending with hope and a renewed gratitude for life, this will give many YAs the encouragement they need to seek help or learn to move past their suffering. Reviewer: Ashleigh Larsen
VOYA - Ruth Cox Clark
Forgiving oneself is much more difficult than forgiving someone else, especially when that someone is dead. Who pulled the trigger of the gun-Jason, who took the bullet, or Kyle, who cannot remember what happened? Kyle, a movie "junkie," keeps replaying the events of that morning in the backyard storage shed where his father had hidden and then forgotten about the loaded pistol. The scenes being played out in Kyle's fifteen-year-old mind come to a standstill, however, as he mentally scripts what happened that morning. His memory freezes right before the gunshot, and no matter how many times the psychologist tries to coax it out of him, it is stuck-just like a film in an old 8mm projector-frozen right before the frame that would answer the question of who fired the gun. The reader vicariously spends a turbulent year with Kyle as he tries to re-script the events of that morning. They may well fight back tears and gulp with grief, but readers will not turn away as a mysterious librarian, Jason's little brother, and a loner at school help Kyle unfreeze that crucial instant of mental film and enable self-forgiveness. Readers of Ayarbe's debut novel will be delighted that she has a second young adult book in the works. Offer this one to the fans of Gail Giles's Right Behind You (Little Brown, 2007/VOYA August 2007). Reviewer: Ruth Cox Clark
School Library Journal

Gr 8 Up

Life can change in an instant and in Ayarbe's debut novel, 15-year-old Kyle learns that lesson firsthand after hearing the shot, feeling the weight of the gun, and watching blood pool around the body of his best friend. Readers are quickly drawn into the mystery of guilt or innocence, although Kyle accepts personal responsibility for Jason's death. Placed on probation by the court, he continues his daily routine in a daze, withdraws from his family, and tries to remember what really happened that morning. Readers learn the history of the friendship through "scenes" created in Kyle's head as though he were directing a movie. Still, he cannot recall the fatal act and continues to blame himself. Kyle finds sanctuary from accusing students in the library as he looks for books that Jason read. Mr. Cordoba, the librarian, provides insightful reading material and eventually Kyle is able to deal with his feelings and recall what really happened. This multidimensional book is rich in details about friendships, families, and their responses to needless death. The characters are well developed through contemporary, earthy dialogue and realistic, often humorous situations. Kyle's relationship with Jason is revealed as usually tight but more recently disappointing as Jason migrated to a more popular crowd. Although sometimes overworked and obtrusive, the movie-scene technique provides a high-interest vehicle for Kyle to communicate his thoughts and feelings. This book will be appreciated by many teens, especially those who have experienced the death of a friend or loved one.-Sue Lloyd, Franklin High School, Livonia, MI

ALA Booklist
“A truly strong first novel, and one with definite appeal to older teens.”
Voice of Youth Advocates (VOYA) (Starred Review)
“They may well fight back tears and gulp with grief, but readers will not turn away...Readers of Ayarbe’s debut novel will be delighted that she has a second young adult novel in the works.”
Ellen Hopkins
“Freeze Frame is, quite simply, a stellar first novel. Heidi Ayarbe’s powerful prose compels you to turn page after page until, along with protagonist Kyle, you reach the necessary resolution to mind-numbing conflict. This story will stay under your skin for a very long time.”

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.00(w) x 7.12(h) x 1.31(d)
Age Range:
12 - 17 Years

Read an Excerpt

Freeze Frame

By Heidi Ayarbe
HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.
Copyright © 2008

Heidi Ayarbe
All right reserved.

ISBN: 9780061351730

Chapter One

Gray slats of light slipped between the bars, only to be swallowed by blackness. I shivered and pulled the colorless blanket around me, squeezing my eyes shut, holding my breath until the pain swelled and exploded in my chest. I exhaled and counted. Each breath took me farther away from where I wanted to be. But I had to go back. I had to change it.

Almost all of yesterday played like a movie in my head. I could start it, rewind, stop, fast-forward, and replay scenes—except for one. That scene never came clear. It was as if the film from the reel had been exposed to sunlight and gotten blotchy.

In some scenes, I even thought about making changes, doing a director's cut.

Melanie, go back and flip your hair to the other side.

When I thought about it like that, I felt like I had control, like it was a Quentin Tarantino movie, all out of order. I could change anything. But then I would remember. No matter how much changed inside my head, it was the same everywhere else.

October 8, 8:52 A.M., Scene One, Take One

We got up from the table because Jason had used all the syrup. The guy really poured it on. Dad ran down to the store to stock up, as if he knew I needed breakfast to be perfect.

Mom ordered us to get ready for the homecoming game andscooted us out of the kitchen. "You can eat in a couple of minutes."

"Sorry about the syrup, Mrs. Caroll," Jason said.

I shook my head. "My pancakes are gonna get cold. You could've saved a drop."

"Big deal, Kyle." Melanie flipped her hair. "God, Mom, he can be such a dumbass."

"Mel, watch your language." Mom glared.

Jason swallowed a laugh. In his house, he'd be nailed for saying dumbass. "Sorry, man. I like a lot of syrup."

"I guess so." I rolled my eyes. "Pig."

"You shouldn't insult your guest," Melanie huffed. "Grow up, Kyle."

Jason wasn't a "guest." You can't consider your best friend since kindergarten a guest, even if he hasn't been around for a while.

I glared at Mel. "It sure wouldn't have hurt you to save some either." I puffed out my cheeks and gut. "If I were you and had to wear that cheerleading skirt, I definitely wouldn't be eating pancakes—and especially not with syrup."

"Mom!" Melanie yelled. "Did you hear what he just said?"

Mom shot me her you're-a-step-from-deep-shit look.

"What?" I asked. "I didn't do anything. I swear!" But by that time Mom was after me with a spatula, and Jason and I ran out the kitchen door before she began screaming too.

"Oh, man," I grumbled, standing barefoot out on the frostbitten grass. I danced from one foot to the other. The cold burned my toes.

"Things don't change around here, huh?" Jason's teeth chattered. "It's cold, man. I'm, like, still in my pajamas." He looked around. "Remember when we decided to go snow camping out here after watching Vertical Limit?"

We'd thought it'd be pretty easy, pretend like we were mountaineers or something. Eat beef jerky for breakfast. We didn't even last an hour. We might've lasted longer if Jase hadn't insisted that he had frostbite. And I didn't want to have to explain to his mom why his toes fell off.

I laughed. "Maybe the coast is clear. Let's go back inside."

Jason and I peeked in the kitchen window. We saw Melanie blabbering away at Mom. Mom pushed a plate of half-eaten pancakes in front of her.

"It doesn't look good. Mel's pretty pissed." Jason turned toward me. "You might not get to go to the game."

"Nah." I shook my head. "You think?" I was standing on my toes, trying to keep my feet from freezing off.

"Yeah, man. That's the kind of shit that gets me sent to Pastor Pretzer."

Jason's family was really churchy, and he always had to talk to his minister when he got in trouble. Whenever we did something wrong at his house, Mrs. Bishop quoted something from the Bible. Her favorite was "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you."

When we were in ninth grade, I asked Mrs. Bishop if that meant we could do unto Kayla Griffin as we would have her do unto us, and she sent me home. I didn't think Mrs. Bishop would get so worked up. It's not like we were twelve or anything, and it was pretty funny.

Mom told me I was being disrespectful. I had to write a letter of apology to Mrs. Bishop and was put on Jason's "probation friend" list. After nine years of being best friends, I became a probation friend. Only Mrs. Bishop could think of crap like that.

"Well, I wouldn't have called her fat if she really was," I told Jason. "I'm not that big of an asshole." I looked back in the window. "Plus, when did our sisters become such freak shows? I mean, Mel used to be pretty cool before all the cheerleading and diets and shit."

Jason shrugged. "I dunno. So, what's next?"

"Let's hang in the shed until things cool down, unless you want to go around through the front door."

"Our feet would freeze off before we got there."

We crossed the backyard to Dad's work shed. The dew soaked my pajama pants. The door was locked, but I knew where Dad kept the key and grabbed it from the ledge. The shed had metal doors, kind of rusty; they screeched when we opened them.

"Shhhh," Jason said. "Keep it down."

The shed smelled like a mixture of oil, fertilizer, and wood shavings.

If I were a director, I could change everything. Jason and I could've gone into the garage and waited. We could've sucked up the cold and snuck in the front door. We could've gone down the street to his house. Maybe I wouldn't have told Mel she was fat. As a director, I had so many choices.


Excerpted from Freeze Frame by Heidi Ayarbe Copyright © 2008 by Heidi Ayarbe. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

Heidi Ayarbe grew up in Nevada and has lived all over the world. She now makes her home in Colombia with her husband and daughter. She is also the author of Compulsion, Compromised, and Freeze Frame.

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