As this Canadian novel opens, Mike Scott's father, mother and sister die in a car crash that leaves him legless and wheelchair-bound. Sullen and withdrawn, Mike goes to live with his aunt Norma, who eventually convinces him to return to high school in time for his senior year and graduation. As he works alone on a project in the school library, Sarah, a perky eighth-grader, boldly befriends him, despite his best efforts to keep her, like everyone else, at arm's length. Gradually, the boy begins to enjoy Sarah's company, just in time to learn her supernatural secret. Mike's bone-chilling discovery marks the pivot point where the book moves from angry character study to paranormal redemption tale. Both halves of the book will engage the target audience. Mike's inner torment echoes familiar questions-Why do bad things happen to good people? Why do children die while evil men live to ripe old age?-and his coming to terms with them is mature and thoughtful. Ages 12-up. (Sept.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
When a truck driver hits his family's car head-on, 10th grader Mike Scott's life takes a terrible turn. He loses his parents, his sister, his legs and a promising future in one fell swoop. After a long and painful rehabilitation, Mike returns to school as a bitter and distant senior who shirks all attempts at assistance and friendship. His social detachment from the other students wins him the opportunity to compile the school's complete history. Mike accepts the challenge, if only to get out of attending the dreadful Mr. Dorfman's history class. Surprisingly, a strange girl named Sarah Francisa presence he at first regretsshows up to help Mike with the project. As Mike gets to know Sarah better, he learns to appreciate her unbending effort and looks forward to her visits. Soon, Mike begins to question Sarah's identity. In fact, no Sarah Francis even attends his school. Finally, Mike steps outside himself long enough to unlock Sarah's past. If he doesn't give up, he may solve a mystery and a murder. This moving, chilling tale of a young man's loss and regaining of self-worth proves an excellent and worthwhile example of supernatural literature. KLIATT Codes: JS*Exceptional book, recommended for junior and senior high school students. 2003, Orca, 170p., Ages 12 to 18.
Lynne Marie Pisano
Gr 6-10-When 10th-grader Mike loses his family and both legs in an automobile accident, he is predictably withdrawn and highly resistant to those intent on helping him. Just as total academic and social detachment seem inevitable, the yearbook committee at his Vancouver high school offers Mike a job assembling a 50th anniversary feature. He accepts, but only because the assignment will free him from attending the soporific history class taught by the dreaded Mr. Dorfman. The plot takes a supernatural turn when an eighth-grade yearbook assistant, Sarah, turns up. Her persistent peppiness gradually defrosts Mike, and young love seems destined to run its course until he reports to his post one day to find Sarah bloodied and weeping in a corner. When she runs out, Mike notifies school officials who inform him that they have no record of her existence. Eventually, yearbooks reveal that she was a student there, but was slain in an unsolved murder dating back to 1982. In subsequent appearances, Sarah reveals the identity of her killer, and Mike sees that justice is done. Unfortunately, while the plot has some compelling ingredients, the third-person narrative relies so heavily on awkward chunks of bald exposition to prop up the tinny dialogue that any personal and spiritual epiphanies that the story's ambitious conclusion might hold are simply not realized.-Jeffrey Hastings, Highlander Way Middle School, Howell, MI Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
"High school life is described with pin-point accuracy...A great choice for senior high school fiction collections. Highly Recommended."
"The story is a strange mix of the simple and the haunting...chilling and effective."
"This is a well-developed novel that shatters the teen perceptions of invincibility, as well as dealing with loss, handicaps, and positive ways to break through grief."
"This is a well-written and gripping book that deals realistically with the depression and emotional turmoil that follows an intense trauma."