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Children's LiteratureThis compelling novel told in prose-poetry form tackles the sensitive but timely subject of high school violence. The novel opens on the one-year anniversary of the murder of a student at Rockville High School. Four teens tell the story from their different perspectives: Ryan is the football star with his own dark secrets, including an abusive father; Floater acts as the behind-the-scenes informant; biracial Tisha feels she does not fit in; and, Kurt, the so-called "freek," is tormented at school and nearing the end of his ability to cope. A reporter from a local television station appears at the school trying to find out what went wrong the year before and whether another violent event could occur. The anger and frustration grow as Kurt continues to be a punching bag, and he vows to himself that he will not be a victim anymore. When Ryan is suspended from the football game on the day the scouts will be there because of an accusation of sexual misconduct with another student, the situation at school becomes explosive. A wrenching narrative with authentic voices, the book explores the roots of violence and everyone's need for acceptance. 2004, Dutton Books, Ages 12 up.
—Valerie O. Patterson