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NOTHING TO LOSE by Alex Flinn Kirkus Star


by Alex Flinn

Age Range: 14 & up

Pub Date: April 1st, 2004
ISBN: 0-06-051750-6
Publisher: HarperCollins

The helplessness and anger of a teenager who knows that his father is beating his mother infuse this arresting tale set in contemporary Miami. Seventeen-year-old Michael Daye tells his story in narratives that alternate between a year earlier, when his stepfather, a wealthy lawyer, is escalating his violence, and the present, when Michael’s mother is about to be tried using a battered-spouse defense for killing the stepfather. In the past year, Michael has been traveling with a carnival, where he feels less of an outsider than he did in high school. Both narratives, taut with tension, culminate in a foreshadowed but nevertheless powerful climax. The complex, well-drawn characters of Michael and his mother convey the psychological effects of abuse with insight and compassion. Secondary characters also emerge as nuanced, most struggling with serious problems of their own. As she did in Breathing Underwater (2001), Flinn does a masterful job of exploring domestic violence, conveying that it’s prevalent among all economic classes and destructive wherever it takes hold. (Fiction. YA)