Something Terrible Happened on Kenmore

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Editorial Reviews

School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up—Told from alternating perspectives, this novel captures a snapshot of life in Depression-era Chicago. The story opens with the police looking for the hand of a five-year-old girl who has been raped and murdered. Each successive narrator sheds a little more light on the circumstances, allowing readers to guess the identity of the perpetrator before it is revealed at the end. Zane, the minister's son, spends his days "slumming," hanging with his friends from school, predominately immigrants, who live on Kenmore Street. Maizy, a heavy girl with low self-esteem, is wholly in love with him, even though she's not sure that their one sexual encounter wasn't a rape, and she becomes pregnant. Fred is a friend to everyone, the moral center of the story. This tight narrative is evocative of Sharon Draper's or Angela Johnson's work, but the historical setting will draw reluctant readers into a whole new era.—Leah Krippner, Harlem High School, Machesney Park, IL
Kirkus Reviews
Five-year-old Marta Carney's murder changes the lives of three Depression-era Chicago teens. Fred and Maizy are from the poorer neighborhoods, but both attract the attention of Zane, a pampered preacher's son. When Zane's father becomes gravely ill, the teens uncover his dark secret. Stillerman struggles with her historical setting, failing to bring it to life, though some of her language choices try to help it along. Maizy's rape is somehow both brutal and understated; in keeping with the sensibilities of the times, Maizy is held responsible for Zane's actions and even naively believes she and Zane will achieve happiness. Despite a somewhat endearing first crush on Maizy, Fred's persona is otherwise bland, and he's easily overlooked. Although she tells the story from three different viewpoints, the author never differentiates the voices enough to make the device work. While the boys' forensic knowledge appears incongruous with the era, this is only a minor flaw among many. Kenmore Street may have seen something awful, but the narrative is a dead end. (Historical fiction. YA)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781934813119
  • Publisher: Westside Books
  • Publication date: 10/1/2009
  • Pages: 200
  • Age range: 14 - 18 Years
  • Lexile: HL650L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted December 16, 2009

    Worth more than one reading

    This is a valuable book because the three friends-Fred, Maizy, and Zale-face difficult real life problems, but even when some of their decisions seem wrong, the author doesn't judge. Instead, she enlightens us and gets us to thinking about friendship, loyalty, and duty, but we're never lectured. Stillerman has a lean, spare style that keeps the story moving and makes the book a fast read. She doesn't try to hide all the turns of the plot, so there were lines I knew must be coming, but still when I read them, they sent a chill through me. Fred, Maizy, and Zale were so interesting, I would love to know what happened to each of them afterward.

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