Zach's Lie

Zach's Lie

4.5 62
by Roland Smith

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Jack Osborne's life changes forever the night men in masks break into his house, threaten Jack and his family, and ransack their home. Jack then discovers the reason these men have come into their lives-his father has been arrested for drug trafficking.

Jack, his mother, and his sister are then forced to enter Witness Security Program. Jack becomes "Zach" and moves

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Jack Osborne's life changes forever the night men in masks break into his house, threaten Jack and his family, and ransack their home. Jack then discovers the reason these men have come into their lives-his father has been arrested for drug trafficking.

Jack, his mother, and his sister are then forced to enter Witness Security Program. Jack becomes "Zach" and moves to Elko, Nevada, a town in the middle of nowhere. There he meets Sam, the strangest school custodian he has ever encountered, and Catalin, a girl who might make Zach's uprooting worth the trouble. But just as Zach finally begins to piece together a new life, he finds himself in danger again-and this time his actions could determine the fates of everyone he cares about.

Editorial Reviews

How does a 7th-grader cope with two identity changes in just a few months without serious adjustment problems? Jack Osborne, alias Zach Granger, alias Mack Greene, manages to pull it off with a maturity that belies his years. On the day that three masked strangers invade the Osborne household and terrorize Jack, his sister Joanne, and their mother, Jack's life is changed forever. His father's involvement in drug smuggling in South America, a situation he later admits was the result of financial problems, has sent his family's life spinning out of control. The father is committed to the Federal Detention Center, and Jack, now Zach Granger, is forced to change his physical appearance, give up his friends, and begin a whole new life under the Federal Witness Protection Program. When Zach meets Sam Sebesta, the enigmatic custodian of his new school, he fears that Sam's interest in him might lead to an unwitting revelation about his past. As events unfold, and the criminals come closer to discovering the Grangers' true identity, Sam's intriguing past enables him to devise a rapid solution that saves the family from certain harm. A jealous schoolmate's theft of Zach's journal ultimately leads the drug criminals to the Grangers' new home. However, Sam rescues a single journal entry written by Zach's father, a discovery that becomes critical in the capture of the smuggling cartel. The timing of both incidents gives this novel a good measure of suspense, and the reader will be caught up in a vicarious fear for the family's safety. Because the criminal network is so vast, the Osborne family is forced to begin anew in yet another location. Zach, now Mack Greene, especially regrets leaving Catalin,the girl who has been his romantic interest, but this sacrifice pales in significance when his father is released from prison and rejoins the family for good. This high-interest novel has enough teen issues to satisfy even the most reluctant readers. The themes of trust and betrayal, family loyalty, loss, friendship and first romance will make it highly interesting to YAs. KLIATT Codes: J—Recommended for junior high school students. 2001, Hyperion, 211p., Ages 12 to 15.
—Phyllis Lamontagne
Jack Osborne is oblivious to his father's secret life. On the surface, Neil Osborne appears to be a commercial airline pilot who owns his own plane and cargo business. One of his major clients, however, is a South American drug lord who uses the plane service to ship his drugs into the United States. Jack discovers all of this when his father suddenly is arrested and his family is placed in the witness security program. Jack becomes Zach Granger when he and his mother and sister are forced to move to an obscure Nevada town. Coming to terms with his manufactured identity, which includes colored contacts and a new middle school, is harder for Zach than for the rest of his family. The only thing that gives him peace is writing in his private journal. When that journal falls into the wrong hands, Zach has to figure out what to hide and who to trust, knowing that the wrong decision could cost his family members their lives. Although the plot unquestionably is riveting, Smith's third-person voice is a bit wooden and there are a few too many coincidences to make this story completely ring true. For example, Zach's new friend, the school custodian, is also a retired KGB spy, and the bad guys stalking Zach just happen to question the one kid at school who has it in for him. Having said that, booktalk this title to reluctant readers and watch them devour it in one sitting. VOYA CODES: 3Q 4P M J (Readable without serious defects; Broad general YA appeal; Middle School, defined as grades 6 to 8; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9). 2001, Hyperion/Disney, 240p, . Ages 12 to 15. Reviewer: Jennifer Hubert SOURCE: VOYA, June 2001 (Vol. 24, No. 2)
Children's Literature
Imagine leaving all your friends and possessions and starting life with a new identity. Jack Osbourne becomes Zach Granger when he, his mother and sister are relocated to Elko, Nevada, a small town in the middle of nowhere. Zach's dad has been arrested for drug trafficking and their lives have been threatened by evil men who mean business. If the family is safely ensconced in the witness protection program, the father agrees to turn states evidence. Just as Zach, his mother and sister become comfortable with the new situation, things begin to unravel. In order to adjust to his new identity and the lies that go with it, Zach writes about his past life in a journal. But someone steals it, leaving the entire family in peril. Many trials and tribulations of moving, making friends and adjusting to new surroundings have been addressed in this adventure, which will keep young readers enthralled. Interesting characters and a roller coaster ride to the finish make this a believable and entertaining story. 2001, Hyperion, . Ages 10 to 14. Reviewer: Laura Hummel
School Library Journal
Gr 5-9-In this contemporary suspense novel, Jack's father, a pilot, has been arrested for drug trafficking. When the cartel thugs come to their house to terrorize the teen, his mother, and his sister, they become candidates for the Witness Security Program and must change their identities. Although the family is told not to bring anything to Nevada that would link them to their former lives, Jack, now Zach, cannot leave his diary behind. With the villains searching for them, there can be no slipups, but the young protagonist soon learns that, in the small town of Elko, "Everyone knows Everything about Everybody." The diary and Zach's vulnerability are well-developed devices, but the plot soon becomes compromised by some unbelievable twists and turns. Zach is befriended by the school custodian, Sam, who acts as the principal's assistant, handling disciplinary cases with counseling and boxing therapy. Sam introduces Zach to the Basque people, sheep tenders in the hills outside town, who conveniently provide a hiding place for Zach when the bad guys arrive. In the biggest stretch of all, Sam outwits the thugs with talents he acquired as a KGB agent. Other details and characters merely set up the chain of events, which is unfortunate because individual chapters are often exciting, and there is a great potential to satisfy suspense fans.-Vicki Reutter, Cazenovia High School, NY Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
The life Jack Osborne knew has just ended. One night the seventh-grader wakes up to find masked men ransacking his house; the next thing he knows, his father has been arrested for drug trafficking. When the accusations against his dad prove true, Jack, his sister Joanne, and his mother enter the FBI's witness protection program. They must leave everything behind and relocate to a small town in Nevada under an assumed identity. Each member of the family deals with this monumental upheaval in a different way. Jack's mother maintains calm composure, while 16-year-old Joanne sees the experience as an opportunity to hone her acting skills. Only Jack, who becomes Zach in his new life, has difficulty adjusting. The contrast between his wealthy former life and the tiny town they are hiding in is stark. He misses his friends, his school, and, above all, his father. Along with this story line, the author includes two interesting subplots. One involves the drug cartel his father was involved in: they have found the family and are preparing to have them killed to prevent Neil's testimony. A second, more richly drawn layer is the inclusion of a large community of Basque people who live nearby in the mountains, continuing their old-fashioned life as shepherds. Jack/Zach makes connections with them and they play a large part in the conclusion of the novel. An explosive but believable ending leaves a few loose ends, but feels satisfying. Jack/Zach is a complex character, struggling with all kinds of emotions about his new life circumstances while also trying to be a normal teenager. An intriguing idea, well-written, with many heart-stopping moments, this should appeal to a wide variety of readers.(Fiction. 12-14)

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Publication date:
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Product dimensions:
5.25(w) x 7.87(h) x 0.50(d)
Age Range:
10 - 14 Years

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