Picture Perfect

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Picture Perfect

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Alphin (Counterfeit Son; Simon Says) again explores the psychological ramifications of physical and emotional abuse in this taut suspense novel set in the small town of Sawville. The narrator, 14-year-old Ian Slater, lives under the thumb of his father (one of the punishments he devises for Ian is making the teen sleep in the family closet), who is also the local school's principal. Ian has two ways to escape his pain. One is retreating to the redwood forest outside of town to pursue his photography, a passionate interest he shares with his best friend, Teddy Camden. The other is to "zone out": "It's kind of like disappearing into a fog-sometimes I can sort of see things through the fog, but most of the time I don't have any idea what's happening," he explains to a kind classmate. When Teddy disappears, and Ian cannot remember anything that happened that day, he becomes the local sheriff's main suspect. Ian uncovers not just his father's surprising role in Teddy's disappearance, but his own coping mechanism: the development of multiple personalities. Ian's father may be a stock character, but Ian is fully formed. Unlike the narrator of Counterfeit Son, who gained a true understanding of himself only at the conclusion, Ian's process is gradual, as he slowly recovers his memory, making his story a compelling journey of self-discovery and self-protection. Ages 12-18. (Aug.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Ian and Teddy have been best friends since middle school, and their favorite pastime is taking pictures out in the redwood forests. Teddy lives with his single, alcoholic mother, and Ian is the son of the school principal, who is likeable and ambitious at school but a demanding disciplinarian at home. Ian tells the story while musing about the different personalities he needs to have to survive. He can only remember foggy snapshots of the afternoon that Teddy disappeared. As the police look for Teddy, Ian feels that it is his responsibility, trusting no one and sometimes concealing the truth. Teddy had been trying to find his unknown father, and his search might be part of the mystery. A hermit who lives in the woods leads Ian to believe that he (Ian) knows something. And although Teddy's digital camera had pictures on it, Ian cannot find them. Ian finally has to trust his friend Sara and a teacher. In a climactic scene with Ian's father, the teacher, and the boys—including the reappeared Teddy—the various clues come together to find a resolution that is tragic and reveals many covered-up truths. This story has appealing ingredients for teens—dysfunctional families, psychology, secrets, hidden personalities, mysterious characters, and high school stereotypes. Some readers will figure out what is happening—do the good guys really win? Although the plot elements are sometimes hard to follow, other readers will be surprised by the eventual truths. This book will keep most teens intrigued. VOYA Codes: 3Q 3P J S (Readable without serious defects; Will appeal with pushing; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9; Senior High, defined as grades 10 to 12). 2003, CarolrhodaBooks/Lerner, 252p., Ages 12 to 18.
—Patricia J. Morrow
KLIATT - Stephanie Squicciarini
Ian's best friend Teddy has disappeared. Both amateur photographers who enjoyed snapping shots of the redwoods, they were to meet in the forest after school as they always did. But Ian cannot remember seeing Teddy the day he disappeared. The son of the school principal, Ian has different selves that he shows the world. There is the school Ian, always the perfect, ideal student and son. Then there is the home Ian, always disappointing his father and being punished in cruel ways. The different Ians collide as he tries to reconcile the snippets of memory that he has of the last time he saw Teddy with the times he zones out, leaving gaps in what he remembers. Ian is a complex character and his father is chillingly twisted with his own demons. Readers will feel the tension mounting as Ian begins to piece together the reality he can no longer ignore, and there are plenty of twists and turns to keep the pages turning. While some of the resolution is a bit unbelievable, the ending is satisfying and gives hope for Ian's ultimate recovery. Give this to readers who enjoyed The Rag and Bone Shop by Robert Cormier; this has a similar eerie tone.
School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up-Ian's friend is missing, and no one knows what happened to him. Or do they? As Ian searches for clues, snatches of a forest glen and Teddy pleading for help keep creeping into his mind. On top of that, Ian's father, the school principal, has been putting extra pressure on his son to be perfect. The protagonist's three "personalities," School-Ian, Home-Ian, and Failure-Ian, all try to work together to do what is expected, but sometimes the expectations are too great and Ian "zones out." As he struggles to remember what he may have seen the day Teddy disappeared, he begins to understand what happened, what he is repressing, and what role his violent father played in his friend's disappearance. Once again, Alphin uses child abuse and the machinations of the mind to create her story, but this time it falls short of believability. While the setting is perfect and Ian's character is well developed, readers are likely to be puzzled by the initially unexplained voice Ian hears in his head. Also, some of Teddy's journal writing is obviously forced to advance the plot and may not ring true for teen readers. Because of the complexities of the relationships, reluctant readers will struggle, but better readers searching for a "male-oriented" mystery may be satisfied.-Lynn Evarts, Sauk Prairie High School, Prairie du Sac, WI Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
After 14-year-old Teddy Camden inexplicably disappears, his best friend, an abused boy who "zones out" and cannot remember whole sections of time, has to confront his personal demons as he tries to figure out what happened. Ian Slater, a gifted photographer, has a secret. His father, the "perfect principal" of Ian's school and the leading candidate for superintendent, terrorizes his family. So complete is his domination, in fact, that Ian has internalized his father's criticisms of him and struggles to be "the son [his father] deserves." As Alphin deftly intensifies both the internal and external pressures on Ian, the reader becomes aware that he's not only worried about Teddy's safety, but that he will somehow jeopardize his father's promotion. Ranging through time, the novel, told in the first person by an increasingly distraught protagonist, zips along, though the surprise ending is all but impossible to buy. Still, disturbing, engrossing, and thought-provoking. (Fiction. YA)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780822564683
  • Publisher: Lerner Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 9/28/2006
  • Pages: 245
  • Sales rank: 982,728
  • Age range: 12 - 17 Years
  • Lexile: 800L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 4 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 24, 2014

    Was it a good mystery?

    It seems good in the review....is it worth the money $$$$ how ever much money it is? Is it appropriate for 12 year olds? BOYS OR GIRLS????? PLEASE RESPOND BACK TO BOOKWORM/PAIGE!!!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 11, 2004

    Good Book

    I had to do this book as a report and i loved it. IT is a must read for young, mature readers. Is kind of hard to follow.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 29, 2011

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 12, 2011

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