Books by Barbara Snow Gilbert

PAPER TRAIL by Barbara Snow Gilbert
CHILDREN'S
Released: May 31, 2000

An Oklahoma teenager sees his mother gunned down, then becomes the quarry of a militia group in this page-turner-with-a-twist. Hidden in a log, Walker hears the shot and the falling body, peers through a knothole to see the corpse and the armed men who come to haul it away, then sets off, numbly but cautiously, through the Oklahoma woods toward the nearest town. Gilbert (Broken Chords, 1998) fills in the back story as he goes, but the life that Walker has made for himself over the ten years since he and his parents moved into the remote area has gone glimmering in the wake of his father David's sudden revelation that he's an undercover FBI agent sent to infiltrate the local "Soldiers of God." Cover blown, the family had split up in an effort to escape—so where is David? Alive or also dead? The author tumbles together short chapters of current action with flashbacks and actual, ominous passages from recent books and articles about the militia movement, cranking up the suspense as Walker is injured, recaptured, then escapes, rescuing his father along the way. And then, Walker's entire heroic flight is revealed as a trauma-induced hallucination, spun out over days of semi-comatose reaction to his mother's murder. By the end, months after at least some of the Soldiers of God have been rounded up, he is just beginning to heal, and to forgive his dad. Focusing most closely on Walker's mental state, the author only sketches out the individual characters of his captors (many of whom are neighbors or schoolmates), leaving a more distinct impression of their rhetoric and capacity for violence than their motivations. Still, readers will be hooked by the intensity of this nightmarish psychodrama. (Fiction. 11-15)Read full book review >
BROKEN CHORDS by Barbara Snow Gilbert
FICTION
Released: Oct. 15, 1998

Gilbert (Stone Water, 1996, etc.) writes sympathetically about a musical prodigy who yearns to be a normal teenager; a story that could have easily fallen to clichÇ becomes a penetrating study of the difference between technical brilliance and true virtuosity. Clara Alexander Lorenzo has never really considered her parents' pronouncements that she must share her gifts with the world; suddenly, at 17, and a finalist in a competition that would assure her a full scholarship at Juilliard, she finds that the idea of becoming a concert pianist leaves her hollow. In this involving novel, the other characters are acutely drawn, each representing a part of Clara herself—Holly, her cheerleading best friend; Marshall, a committed pianist and intense love-interest; her parents, whose hopes and dreams are wrapped up in music; and Tashi, her gentle, guiding teacher, whose wisdom, perceptions, and stories of her sacrifices in her Russian homeland give Clara courage. Descriptive passages of playing are well-crafted, and Clara's doubts about the piano are effectively juxtaposed with her passion for ballet'she is not particularly adept, but it stirs something in her. The tension builds to the competition, ending with Clara's decision and small, unexpected gestures from the people she loves. A compassionate work. (Fiction. 12-14) Read full book review >
STONE WATER by Barbara Snow Gilbert
FAMILY AND GROWING UP
Released: Nov. 1, 1996

A 14-year-old is faced with the hardest decision of his life in this outstanding, sensitive exploration of a topic ripped from the headlines. When his beloved grandfather, Henry, suffers a stroke and is transferred to the rest home's Skilled Personal Care Unit, Grant opens an envelope he had been holding for that eventuality, and reads a request from the old man to help him die. Knowing that he dare not share the plea—most especially with his parents, who are already committed to authorizing heroic measures to keep Henry alive—Grant discreetly looks into the legal, ethical, moral, and religious implications of assisting a suicide, balancing them against his love and respect for someone who is closer to him than his own father. To his well-defined world of school, sports, and friends, Grant adds regular visits to Henry's bedside, where he talks, remembers, and tenderly helps with the nursing duties, quietly hoping that time will make the decision for him. No such luck—but when the crisis comes and Grant makes his agonized choice, Henry regains consciousness long enough to hold the drugged cup himself: It's not absolution, but mercy, and a fitting resolution to a compassionate story. Rather than a premise impelled by didacticism and hung about with tiny plot elements, Gilbert—in her first novel—crafts a rich, absorbing story of believable situations and intelligent characters. No reader of any age will remain unmoved. (Fiction. 12+) Read full book review >