Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
A psychotic mystery caller threatens a teenage boy's family. In a starred review, PW praised "the masterful crafting of the book's intricate plot and surprise ending." Ages 12-up.
School Library Journal
Gr 7 Up-When a balcony collapsed during a special magic show in a rundown, neighborhood movie theater, 22 disadvantaged children died. Although he was never charged with any wrongdoing, John Paul Colbert, who was 16 at the time, was working as an usher and accidentally caused a fire that contributed to the tragedy. He resolutely refused to comment on what happened even after the theater's owner committed suicide and the public clamored for someone to be held responsible. Many of the victims' relatives blamed John Paul for the incident and tormented him into adulthood. Years later, his son Denny, now 16, begins to receive the same harassing phone calls. Resentful of his father's long passivity, Denny resolves not to follow in the man's footsteps. Intersecting plot lines rush together in an exciting climax that reveals the relationships between some key characters. Parallel in plot elements and themes to Cormier's previous YA titles, especially We All Fall Down (Dell, 1993) and Tunes for Bears to Dance to (Delacorte, 1992), this book seems more accessible, especially to horror/mystery fans. While grim and terrifying in some respects, this is not, in toto, a bleak novel. Its style is reminiscent of Jay Bennett's, with fairly long passages of dialogue that are heavy with foreshadowing. Unresolved details detract only slightly from the power of the prose to address the painful process of maturing and of beginning to understand and accept adult roles. Readers experience several time shifts and must discern the identity of several narrative voices while grappling with complex themes concerning tragedy, guilt, responsibility, and expiation. YAs willing to invest some intellectual effort will be amply rewarded by this sophisticated psychological thriller.-Joel Shoemaker, Southeast Jr. High School, Iowa City, IA
Almost 25 years ago, on Halloween, Denny's father was an usher at a theater that collapsed, killing 22 children and injuring others. Although he was absolved of any guilt, his family has continued to be harassed by those needing someone to blame. Sixteen-year-old Denny has been forced to lead a sheltered life, moving often, making no friends, even forbidden to answer the phone. In the tragedy's twenty-fifth anniversary year, Denny marshals the strength to rebel when he finds himself engaged in a suspenseful, sensual telephone game with a "victim" bent on revenge. Once again, Cormier explores the underside of human emotions: hatred, guilt, thirst for revenge. From the first page, readers will be caught up in the story as Denny is dragged closer and closer to apparent doom at the hands of someone too sick for Denny to defend himself against. The ending lacks resolution, leaving Denny with an obsession he might never escape and his father struggling with what is clearly unjustified guilt--exactly the kind of ending Cormier fans have come to expect.
From the Publisher
We All Fall Down
An ALA Best Book for Young Adults
"Again, the inimitable Cormier luridly explores the fouler corners of our spiritual attics." Kirkus Reviews, Pointer
"[We All Fall Down] is sure...to find a devoted following among the kids themselves, who will recognize and embrace the authenticity of the achingly awful adolescent world that Cormier has created."
School Library Journal, Starred
Tunes for Bears to Dance To
"Compelling...sharp, short, and to the point...it will not be easily forgotten." School Library Journal
"In the classic Cormier fashion, the conclusion is unexpected...a thought-provoking story." Kirkus Reviews
Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
"Cormier's a compelling storyteller, and the pace is inexorable." Booklist