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So it is almost a relief to him when the bullies find a new target, Benny Mason. As the bullying intensifies, Charley keeps hoping that Benny will defend himself, but he fails to intervene. When the situation turns tragic, Charley must face some difficult questions about his own part in the events. His search for atonement leads to an unusual friendship, and an unexpected opportunity to pay back. This gripping and thought-provoking novel is told with wit and empathy, by a masterful storyteller.
Gr 7 Up
Charley Callaghan has just moved from Ireland to North Vancouver and is starting eighth grade. He's trying to "speak like a Canadian" to fit in at school; he's trying to cope with the death of his mother; he's trying to help care for his withdrawn younger sister; and he's bullied because of his accent. Charley takes readers into his world, telling the affecting story of how, in the midst of all this, he watches another new kid suffer even worse torment than he does because he is effeminate and possibly gay. When Benny takes his own life, Charley deals with his intense guilt about not defending him and attempts to make up for it, to "pay back," by helping the boy's agoraphobic mother. This is a startlingly poignant novel. Charley's compelling, straightforward voice rings true and builds trust in his audience by exposing his most wracking emotions. This is, ultimately, a story about guilt and honesty, about trying to help others when we need so much help ourselves. Readers will find a character or situation to identify with and will admire the means by which Charley achieves some peace of mind.
—Riva PollardCopyright 2006 Reed Business Information.