Paybackby James Heneghan
Thirteen-year-old Charley Callaghan is coping with some difficult changes. His family has recently moved to Vancouver from Ireland, and his mother has died of cancer. Now he is desperately trying to fit in - in a new school, a new city, a new country - while holding a part-time job and keeping an eye on his little sister, Annie. Charley's red hair and Irish accent
Thirteen-year-old Charley Callaghan is coping with some difficult changes. His family has recently moved to Vancouver from Ireland, and his mother has died of cancer. Now he is desperately trying to fit in - in a new school, a new city, a new country - while holding a part-time job and keeping an eye on his little sister, Annie. Charley's red hair and Irish accent at first make him a target of the class bullies, but he is tough enough - just - to keep them at bay.
So it is almost a relief to him when the bullies find a new target, Benny Mason. Charley keeps hoping that Benny will defend himself, but he fails to intervene when the bullying worsens. When Benny commits suicide, Charley is overcome with remorse and guilt. He visits Benny's single mom, Joanna, but instead of confessing, finds himself trying to make amends by doing chores, running errands and befriending Benny's little brother. Can Charley find atonement for failing to act? James Heneghan's trademark narrative drive, vivid characters and strong social message make this a striking study of loss and renewal.
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a Canadian" to fit in at school; he's trying to cope with the death of his mother; he's trying to help care for his withdrawn younger sister; and he's bullied because of his accent.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.
Meet the Author
James Heneghan was raised in Ireland and in Liverpool, England, where he worked as a policeman. After coming to Canada, he was a police fingerprint specialist before becoming a teacher. He has won the Arthur Ellis Award for Juvenile Crime Fiction and is a three-time winner of the Sheila A. Egoff Book Prize for Children's Literature. He lives in North Vancouver, British Columbia.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
See all customer reviews