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Red Heart Tattoo

Red Heart Tattoo

4.5 6
by Lurlene McDaniel

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At 7:45 a.m. on the day before Thanksgiving break, a bomb goes off at Edison High. Nine people die instantly. Fifteen are critically injured. Twenty-two suffer less severe injuries. And one is blinded. Those who survive, struggle to cope with the loss and destruction. All must find new meaning for their lives as a result of something they may never


At 7:45 a.m. on the day before Thanksgiving break, a bomb goes off at Edison High. Nine people die instantly. Fifteen are critically injured. Twenty-two suffer less severe injuries. And one is blinded. Those who survive, struggle to cope with the loss and destruction. All must find new meaning for their lives as a result of something they may never understand.

Lurlene McDaniel's signature expertise and finesse in dealing with issues of violence, death, and physical as well as emotional trauma in the lives of teens is immediate and heartrending.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
McDaniel's (Reaching Through Time: Three Novellas) timely but predictable melodrama takes place in the months before and after a school bombing. The narrative switches perspectives among a group of high school seniors who represent different social strata but rarely rise above stereotypes. Popular student council president Morgan is dating the school's star athlete, but uncertain about their future. Morgan's best friend Kelli is fed up with the pressures of cheerleading and has grown distant as the result of a breakup and a secret pregnancy. Tattooed Roth has a less-than-stellar record and begins to flirt with Morgan, his longtime crush, despite his friend Liza's jealousy. Meanwhile, two outcasts referred to as "The Watchers" are plotting the bombing. Due to a previous prank, Roth becomes the prime suspect, despite saving Morgan's life, and a romance kindles between them as Morgan struggles to overcome PTSD-induced blindness. Readers don't get to spend much time with individual characters, due to McDaniel's mosaic structure, and the Watchers, presented as a disturbed student and his vulnerable accomplice, offer little exploration into the possible impetus for acts of mass violence. Ages 12-up. Agent: Meg Ruley, Jane Rotrosen Agency. (July)
Children's Literature - Jody Little
When a bomb explodes at Edison High School, nine students die and many others are seriously harmed, including Student Body President, Morgan Frierson, who is left blind by the blast. Roth Rothman becomes the initial suspect after it is leaked that earlier in the year he set off fireworks at a football pep rally. Kelly Larson, keeping a secret about her pregnancy, loses her baby in the blast, and her former boyfriend is paralyzed. As personal stories unravel, so does the story of the real bombers, two students seeking revenge against the popular crowd. When Morgan struggles to regain her sight, she finds herself increasingly attracted to Roth, even though she loves her longtime boyfriend, Trent. As her memories of the day of the bombing begin to resurface, Morgan learns a shocking secret about who died in the blast. Only when she faces her memories and accepts her loss does her eyesight return. By alternating passages and chapters, author McDaniel weaves the main characters' personal situations into one storyline. A few subplots lack depth and detail, mainly the capture of the two bombers which feels incomplete and may leave readers disappointed. Overall, romance readers will enjoy the love story within a tragic situation, and will finish the book with a sense of hope. Reviewer: Jody Little
VOYA - Christine Fairman
Like any other school, Edison High School has its diverse share of students; athletes, popular kids, loners, and others navigate the hallways within a sensitive but time-tested ecosystem. The protagonist of the book is Morgan Frierson, senior class president who, with her athlete boyfriend, is half of the school's "Cutest Couple." On the other side of the spectrum is Stuart "Roth" Rothman, a brooding classmate whose defiant history has earned him the label of troublemaker. True to the standard romantic formula, Roth and Morgan discover that they share a spark, which both intrigues and disturbs Morgan. A few brief encounters with Roth suggest that there is something more to this guy than his tattoos and drab clothing, but she cannot envision him being part of her perfect life. Everything changes, however, when two troubled students at the school detonate a bomb that kills nine and blinds Morgan. One casualty is her boyfriend, who dies shielding her from the blast. Amazingly, Morgan survives, thanks to the heroic actions of Roth immediately after the tragedy. The story is as much a romance as it is the story of school violence, prejudice, and false accusations that swirl around Roth after the event. Sexual references are minimal and it does not contain questionable language. True romantics will be disappointed at the abrupt ending, and at the fact that Morgan and Roth are surprisingly restrained in spite of their very obvious attraction to one another. Nevertheless, most fans of romantic drama will find this an appealing, easy read. Reviewer: Christine Fairman
From the Publisher
"In her signature style, McDaniel explores the grief, anger, and upheaval caused by a school bombing. . . . Readers will be drawn to the novel's brevity, romance, and ripped-from-the-headlines subject matter."—SLJ

"Teens dealing with devastating illness and injury . . . Likable characters . . . an eye-catching cover . . . should draw plenty of romance readers."—BooklistOnline.com

"As much a romance as it is the story of school violence, prejudice, and false accusations. . . . An appealing, easy read."—VOYA

School Library Journal
Gr 8 Up—In her signature dramatic style, McDaniel explores the grief, anger, and upheaval caused by a school bombing. Complete with pep rallies and teen romances, Edison High School is ordinary and suburban. But when a bomb explodes just before morning classes start, students find their lives turning upside down. Through the perspectives of teens impacted by the blast, readers will quickly empathize with their confusion, despair, and determination. Characters represent a mix of the school's population, including a popular cheerleader, the student-council president, a goth girl, and an outsider. While characterizations can be broad, none of them slips into stereotypes. The characters speak and act in a believable manner save for some instances-e.g., one teen refers to his "Web avatar," which seems a bit dated. The shocking fate of two characters involved in a romantic relationship is revealed dramatically. The depiction of the explosion, panic, and glee felt by the main perpetrator while witnessing the explosion from a safe distance are realistically detailed. However, the exposure of the true perpetrators is a bit rushed and anticlimactic. Reluctant readers will be drawn to the novel's brevity, romance, and ripped-from-the-headlines subject matter.—Jennifer Schultz, Fauquier County Public Library, Warrenton, VA

Product Details

Random House Children's Books
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.70(w) x 8.30(h) x 0.90(d)
HL630L (what's this?)
Age Range:
12 - 17 Years

Read an Excerpt


Morgan Frierson looked across the football field, at stands filled with Edison students, all stomping and cheering for the start of the pep rally. A frenzied exhibition of school spirit would guarantee that Edison’s principal and staff would authorize another such rally. And who didn’t want to cut out of last period thirty minutes early? Morgan knew some kids were already melting away into the Michigan afternoon, ditching school and the rally, but most were hanging around in the stands.

She stood at the mouth of the short tunnel leading from the locker room, the football team stamping behind her, waiting for Principal Simmons to finish his comments on the makeshift stage in the middle of the field. The marching band had already played and gone through a few formations, and now its members were standing at the foot of the stage, sweating in the hot sun. Morgan fidgeted impatiently, and when she felt the brush of lips on the back of her neck, she jumped a foot.

“Whoa, babe! It’s a kiss, not a knife,” she heard her boyfriend, Trent Caparella, say.

Behind them, a few of the players made smacking sounds and off-color remarks.

Trent turned, saying good-naturedly, “Knock it off, dirtbags.”

Morgan spun to face Trent. “You startled me.”

Trent was a soccer player, but during football season Coach used Trent’s kicking leg to add necessary extra points and field goals to the scoreboard. “Nervous, Madam President?”

They were seniors and Morgan had been elected student council president. Today was her first public speech to the student body. “Nervous? How could I be? I just love talking to a thousand kids who are going to ignore me.”

“Never happen. When they see you coming, they’ll bow.”

“Very funny.” Morgan chewed her bottom lip, heard her name from the principal’s mike. She took a deep breath. “Here I go.” She jogged onto the field, looking at the ground so she wouldn’t trip. Catcalls and cheers erupted from the stands. She glanced up to see her best friend, Kelli, and a whole squad of cheerleaders waving at her. The front rows of the stands were packed with her fellow seniors, benches of honor at every pep rally, off-limits to the other kids.

Morgan trotted up the platform stairs, her hair bobbing on her shoulders, and went to the mike. “Seniors, juniors, sophomores, freshmen!” The bleachers yipped with whistles and stomping. Each class attempted to outscreech the others. Morgan quickly decided to dump her prepared remarks about school spirit. “Here they are!” she shouted. “Your Fighting Eagles!”

The football team, dressed in bright blue-and-white uniforms, jogged out onto the field, and the students did their cheering duty, led by the cheerleading squad. Morgan kept her eyes on Trent. He was gorgeous: tall, blond, broad-shouldered, with bulging leg muscles from years of playing soccer. She felt so lucky to be his girl. Ever since their freshman year, when they’d first set eyes on each other, they’d been a couple—“the Jock and the Princess, a Disney movie in living color.” That was what Kelli had always said about them. Morgan couldn’t deny she agreed with her friend’s analysis. She and Trent were a perfect couple; everyone said so. He was one of the reasons she’d been elected student council president, and they the Most Popular Twosome for the yearbook. But she’d earned Most Likely to Succeed and become a Merit Scholar on her own. No denying she was driven to earn high grades and college scholarships. Trent had already been offered athletic scholarships from top universities. They would be going their separate ways after graduation. That was hard for Morgan—knowing that this was their last year together before their lives changed forever.

The team jogged around the football field. Cheers. Kelli and the cheerleading squad flashed pom-poms, made human pyramids, executed precise tumbling routines. More cheers from the bleachers. The band struck up the school song and air horns sounded out of nowhere. The principal beamed toward the stands. Morgan felt a deep stirring of school spirit and teared up. For a moment, her gaze connected with Trent’s. He blew her a kiss.

And then, without warning, in front of the goalpost at the east end of the field, all hell broke loose.

Meet the Author

LURLENE MCDANIEL is the #1 author of inspirational fiction for young adults. She lives in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

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The Red Heart Tattoo 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
lovepassionbooks More than 1 year ago
When I was in High school, the young adult novels that were out for us to read were Lurlene McDaniel books. And I loved them. I know that I read all the ones available at my library. They are just so heartfelt and close to home. They make you think about how great your life is at this moment in time. And this book is exactly what I remembered! You are in high school. You are sitting waiting for school to start. You are chatting with friends, catching up on homework, and just hanging with friends. But then the unthinkable happens....a bomb goes off and kills some, injures most, and blinds one. What is going through your mind? I don't know how I would be able to handle it. Some of my friends, I consider family. If any one of them gets hurt, it hits home. So you can only imagine how Morgan feels when she finds out exactly what happens in her high school. I think that this story was one of my favorites from Lurlene. She is such an talented author. She knows how to explain how people feel in the time of tragedy. She is an amazing author. And this is an amazing story! If you want to read a story that makes you keep turning the pages this book is defiantly the book that you will need!
FeatheredQuillBookReviews More than 1 year ago
This is one of those rare fiction books that speak wholeheartedly and truthfully about some very serious issues that are occurring in our day and age. From terrorism by young adults to bullying, teen pregnancy, and the age old theory of ‘Romeo and Juliet’ - where a guy from one side of the tracks finds himself madly in love with a ‘perfect’ girl from the other side - this tale has it all. As we begin, the school kids are all assembled in the courtyard excited about the fact that Thanksgiving Break is upon them and they finally get some time off from school to enjoy a holiday and each other. At 7:35 AM…a bomb is detonated, silencing their dreams… As the author brings us back to September, we are introduced to a girl by the name of Morgan Frierson. Morgan is Student Council President dating one of the jocks who’s mainly a soccer star, but in this season he’s also the field goal kicker for the football team - she is one girl who seemingly has it all. Also in school, when he feels like going, is Stuart Rothman (AKA: Roth). He’s liked Morgan since sixth grade - before he became the bad boy of the town. He lives with his Uncle, who has just taken a wife, and spends most of his time at his Uncle’s business - the Ink Spot tattoo parlor. His Uncle is a military guy with a big heart. Roth was orphaned at seven after his parents were killed in an explosion of their meth lad and became a ward of the state before being taken in by his Uncle, who makes sure that Roth knows that he MUST graduate high school no matter what, and drop this whole ‘wicked’ side. Kelli, one of Morgan’s best friends, is a cheerleader whose parented by a mom who wants nothing more than to relive her glory days through her child; although Kelli has an issue that will not only erase the cheerleading career but will also cause her to face a break-up. Roth’s best friend is a girl named Liza who wants far more than friendship. Add into all this a duo called ‘The Watchers’ who hate the popular students and want to make sure everyone knows it - and you have an unforgettable tale with a wealth of emotion. This author has done a fantastic job of overlapping fiction with fact. So much so, that the reader will be heartbroken when they think about the very real troubles in today’s schools. Quill Says: A lovely romance locked inside a tale of heartache, determination and a look at having to grow up way too fast!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed reading this book. It kept me at the edge of mt seat. I love lurlene mcdaniels books. She never disappoints me in her writing.
Suzie_Beth17 More than 1 year ago
hits home wiith what is going on in the world these days
Anonymous More than 1 year ago