Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Voigt's (see PW Interviews, p. 225) searing new novel plunges the reader headlong into the crisis facing its protagonist, a teenager named Tish who can no longer endure her stepfather's sexual abuse of her. As the novel begins, Tish disrupts the family breakfast by pointing a survival knife at Tonnie, the stepfather, and threatening to attack him if he comes near her ever again. In tackling the subject of abuse, Voigt takes no short cuts: Tish has tried reasonable measures before resorting to the knife; her unprotective mother is not unloving, only fatally vulnerable; no deus ex machina, no selflessly dedicated teacher or best friend arrives to save Tish. Instead, Voigt focuses on the rest of that single, brutal day. Tish goes to school, knife hidden in her Docs, staving off panic--until gym class, when she can no longer keep the knife a secret. Tish must--and does--find someone to help her, but she herself must determine her course of action. The tension intensifies almost unbearably; without sacrificing the tautness of her narrative, Voigt endows each character with a life that somehow goes on beyond the page. An exceptional offering. Ages 12-up. (Sept.)
Children's Literature - Mary Sue Preissner
Tish is one confused, frightened girl. Pushed to the point of no return, she takes refuge behind a knife, hidden in her shoe, believing that this can protect her from her incestuous stepfather. But the voice of reason, which occasionally surfaces within her, moves her to confront her problem and her fears that no one will believe her or care. Voigt has tackled a distasteful topic, with forthrightness, bringing Tish to the realization that only she can help herself and doing so will bring a promising, but not perfect, future. 1996 (orig.
The ALAN Review - Diana Mitchell
Lies are woven into the fabric of Tish's family life. Her mother lies to herself about the horror happening in her own house. Her stepfather couches his night-time visits to Tish's room in lies. Even Tish lies by daily creating a new persona for herself at school in order to preserve her mystery and her "I-don't-care" attitude. Then Tish confronts her stepfather with a knife at breakfast. Will this change what's happening to her? Will this prevent her from ending up dead like Miranda? This tension-filled, fast-paced book is hard to put down. My only discomfort with this novel is the "solution" offered to Tish at the end, which seems beyond the reach of many victims and a bit too easy. Most teens will enjoy this terrifying, vividly written novel, especially if they want a close-up look at the face of sexual abuse.
School Library Journal
Gr 7 Up-With the first sentence of this searingly honest novel, readers are plunged into the consciousness of a teenage girl who is fighting for her life. Tish's adversary isn't disease or physical injury; instead, it is the devastation of ongoing sexual abuse. The novel spans one day, from the moment at breakfast when she warns her stepfather to stay away from her, to the realization-in the late afternoon-that she can escape his domination. In between, readers travel with Tish through her day in high school, experiencing her rage, helplessness, and blistering humor. Readers who want to go beyond the current headlines will get an accurate and unforgettable picture of domestic tyranny. Nowhere in children's literature is the link between abuse and violence (including teenage suicide) so clearly delineated, nor the mind-bending effects of dissociative defenses so accurately portrayed. Voigt wisely stays away from depictions of the abuse itself. Nonetheless, this book is strong stuff, best read by emotionally mature readers. Be sure to tell guidance counselors about this novel, which contains crucial insights into abusive relationships. The most important of these is Tish's epiphany in which she realizes that her stepfather's power, while nearly absolute at home, is limited to a relatively tiny sphere. She discovers a doorway to the rest of the world and with it her own liberation. This groundbreaking book-like its protagonist-is raw, courageous, and a winner.-Carolyn Polese, Humboldt State University, Arcata, CA