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SECRETS by Alane Ferguson

SECRETS

By Alane Ferguson

Age Range: 11 - 13

Pub Date: June 1st, 1997
ISBN: 0-689-80313-3
Publisher: Simon & Schuster

 A pervasive tone of anger darkens this tale of a sullen 12-year-old whose world turns upside down when he learns that he's adopted. Having little use for the tyrannical, sixtysomething father who has raised him, T.J. is spending the summer hanging out at the zoo when a keeper, Nancy, confesses that she's his birth mother. At first T.J. reacts with hostility, but confirmation isn't long in coming, and soon he's meeting her regularly on the sly. A further shock awaits: Nancy introduces T.J. to his biological sister, eight-year-old Londyn, and the realization that Nancy kept her but gave him up leaves T.J. even more emotionally aloft. Nancy is manipulative and only a marginally competent parent, but T.J. finds something he needs in her and Londyn; he plies his sister with gifts, dips into his savings account to spruce up Nancy's shabby house, and consults a lawyer about opening a custody challenge. When his father finds out, T.J. runs away from home, but Ferguson contrives to have him in earshot when Nancy and his father achieve dÇtente. Neither adult is particularly appealing, and readers may have trouble buying T.J.'s conversion from angry loner to loving brother. Still, the story ends on an upbeat note, offering the hope that some bad choices in life can be corrected. (Fiction. 11-13)