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Gr 9 Up
Like many 14-year-old boys, Simon is fascinated by weapons and wilderness survival, but his fascination transcends the norm and his obsession with hunting fills the early pages of the novel with a powerful sense of foreboding. Virtually friendless, alienated from his mother and younger sister, Simon wanders his Cornish seaside town in a stew of anger and loneliness. Enter Leah, another troubled teen who moves in next door. Older than Simon and much more confident, she takes him on as a summer project. Over vacation, Simon's emotions escalate: he gets an air gun against his mother's wishes, he loses his virginity to an aggressive and drunk Leah, and his mother begins dating his art teacher, the one adult who has tried to reach out to Simon. When his mother gets Leah a job with Matt (on whom Leah has a powerful crush), Simon's pent-up anger and potential for violence are tested. A rather flat and incongruously happy ending reduce some of the power of the book, but the compelling characters and story will keep readers interested.
—Douglas P. DaveyCopyright 2006 Reed Business Information.