"Boll is a lawyer and her background in family law shows in this well-informed and uncompromising novel. This kind of story is often not presented in such ordinary surroundings and I admire the author's choice of everday realism."
Canadian Children's Book News
"Danny is a sympathetic character and reactions to the drastic changes in his life are believable for a young teen...Suspense is sustained throughout as the reader waits to discover if Danny can make the right decision and accept his new life."
Library Media Connection
"A great story of upheaval and change."
"The author has an intricate understanding of the Canadian legal system and the means by which domestic violence charges are dealt with in court…Boll's psychological exploration of Danny is particularly compelling and effective…A natural fit in a public or school library…Recommended."
VOYA - Ava Ehde
Danny is unwilling or unable to accept the fact that his father is abusing his mother, although experts at the trial say his father will likely kill her next time. She has made excuses and kept the beatings a secret for many years. Even after the latest altercation, when Danny hears his father threaten to shoot her and finds her badly injured at the bottom of the stairs, he still wants to believe that it is an aberrant event rather than a growing danger. Paul, Danny's father, is always encouraging and engaging him, finding activities and interests to pursue together, although this is not the case with his sister, Jennifer. Unfortunately, Danny hasn't taken note of the fact that in addition to constantly putting his mother down, Paul pushes away and discourages her friends and family. Now the justice system is involved, and with the help of friends in legal and social services, his mother takes him and his sister to live in a new city with new identities. Danny can't accept all that he has lost and rebels at every turn. This first-time author provides a thoughtful account of life amid the world of domestic abuse, where children can feel confused when adults are not who they pretend to be. Sadly, this topic affects too many families, so it's timely and helpful to have this insightful literature for assignments and general interest in both public and school libraries. Reviewer: Ava Ehde
Children's Literature - Judy Silverman
This is a rather disturbing book, but I think that it is meant to be so. Domestic abuse is a "hot topic" right now, and the author has given us a realistic view of how abuse affects an entire community. She is an attorney from Edmonton, Alberta who specializes in "the complex network of laws that govern our everyday lives, and explaining what the justice system can and cannot do." Her protagonist is thirteen-year-old Danny, whose father has been abusing his mother for years. The mother has been living a lie for all these years, unwilling to admit even to herself that the man whom she loves, the father of her children, is a sick bully whose apologies to her mean absolutely nothing. He will continue to beat her up, blaming her, destroying her self-esteem, separating her from her family, and any possible support system she might have had. But now that Danny and Jennifer, his younger sister, have seen her unconscious on the floor, she decides to leave the marriage. She presses charges against her husband; there is a trial, and he is found guilty. Her friend on the police force convinces her that neither she nor the children will be safe once her husband gets out of prison. The witness protection program has been designed to make the family safe, but it is not easy. They will have to live another set of liesthey will have to change their names and their histories, they will have to move, and it is likely that they will never see their grandparents again. This moving portrait of a troubled family, coping with a situation they never planned for, is a real page turner. It is, however, difficult for this librarian to figure out who its audience is. Adults? Definitely. Children? Not so much. Teens? Very possibly. Danny is by turns hostile, frightened, childish, sophisticatedin other words a real boy. Recommended. Reviewer: Judy Silverman
School Library Journal
Gr 5–9—Thirteen-year-old Danny sits sullenly in a Canadian courtroom as the details of his father's trial unfold. Readers learn how the man has brutalized his wife for years. Danny doesn't believe it; his father has always been great with him. His mother's lawyer warns that her life is in danger, and after his father gets a light sentence, they are barreling toward some sort of victim-protection program. Suddenly he is packing and saying good-bye to his grandparents forever. His younger sister and his mother try to tell him that they were telling the truth, and that this is the only way. But Danny has plans of his own. He'll wait until Christmas, and then he'll call his dad and things can get back to normal. When they get to their new home with their new identities, the boy's attitude gets steadily worse as he falls in with the wrong crowd and starts shoplifting, ditching school, and smoking. This story is beautifully told, and readers will be pulled along with Danny as he slowly comes to face reality and his own demons. With most of the graphic violence offstage, this story is sensitive enough for younger readers to handle, yet the characters seem so real.—Jake Pettit, Thompson Valley High School, Loveland, CO