Reviewed August 16, 2003.
Joanne Cotler Books (HarperCollins), New York, 2003.
Available at Sembach Library (JF PRO).
Another school shooting has happened at Pleasant Valley High School.
At nearby Central High School, Tom Bishop and his friends don’t realize
how much their lives are going to change.
The principal brings in a Grief and Crisis Counselor, Dr. Willner.
Dr. Willner institutes new rules, including a Zero Tolerance policy for
drugs or firearms. Students are also not allowed to wear flip-flops,
sunglasses, chains, studded accessories, or the color red. On the
first day, a popular girl continues to wear a red ribbon in honor of her brother,
who died of AIDS. She is suspended for two days. Only she doesn’t
More rules are added every day. The kids must submit to random
backpack searches, locker searches and drug testing. Their parents
get e-mails every night telling the new rules. The teachers seem
eerily in harmony with the changes. Usually strong-willed parents
actually allow their children to be packed off to Operation Turnaround.
More people disappear. Something is very wrong.
Both my fifteen-year-old son and my husband read this and recommended
that I read it. It’s a well-told, suspenseful story. Unlike
by M. T. Anderson, you didn’t
quite get the feeling that this scenario could actually happen, perhaps
because a motive for the big evil plot was never really given. The
author did make it believable that people would gradually give up liberties
in the interest of safety. People allowed their children’s possessions
to be searched in hope of saving them from killers, just as now people
are giving up the right to have their library or bookstore records private,
in the hope of saving themselves from terrorists. And the book raises
the question, How far will we let that go?
Copyright © 2003 Sondra Eklund.
All rights reserved.
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