This novella was written for an older child who has the maturity to understand sensitive issues. Parents should read it too since it presents a wonderful opportunity for discussion. Polese focuses on a young girl who is sexually assaulted and faces her fears of emotional and physical threats before she is able to escape the misery of her secret. The molester is not a family member or friend and that may make it easier for discussion with a parent.
School Library Journal
Gr 4-6 A flawed bibliotherapeutic novel about sexual abuse. Meagan is pleased when Walt, the cowboy on the ranch where she and her family are vacationing, gives her extra time on horseback. But when he lures her into the woods one night with the promise of more riding and then grabs her, she is confused. Her impulse is to tell no one, both because she promised Walt to keep quiet and because she feels ashamed and responsible. When Walt threatens to hurt her two-year-old sister if she tells, Meagan realizes that her promise protects only him. She tells a sympathetic-seeming older woman friend who accuses her of exaggerating. At last she tells her mother, and action is taken. Meagan's fear, shame and confusion are well portrayed, but there are weakness in characterization and setting. Polese makes Walt an unmitigated bad guy; when Meagan asks why he would act like that, her mother yells, ``He's sick!'' This short, fast-paced book may fill a need to help children open up if they have experienced assault, but it fails as fiction and in helping to understand a complex social crime. Anne Osborn, Riverside Public Library, Calif.