Kirkus Reviews QR Code
A CERTAIN OCTOBER by Angela Johnson Kirkus Star


by Angela Johnson

Age Range: 14 - 18

Pub Date: Aug. 28th, 2012
ISBN: 978-0-689-86505-3
Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Scotty’s world is turned upside down when an accident leaves her brother severely injured, an acquaintance dead and Scotty feeling responsible.

In the fall of Scotty’s junior year of high school, it appears all she has to worry about is reading Anna Karenina and the homecoming dance. Scotty, who has been a vegetarian since last year’s visit to a dairy farm, describes her reality: “My life is like tofu—it’s what gets added that makes it interesting.” The most unusual thing about Scotty is her autistic, 7-year-old brother, Keone, who likes to steal cookies and run naked through the neighborhood. Her father and stepmother handle her brother without fanfare, as does Scotty, so it was normal for her to take him to the doctor and return home on the train. It is there that a tragic accident leaves Scotty injured, Keone in a coma and two students dead. Suddenly, levelheaded Scotty, healing from the physical injuries, cannot let go of the guilt she feels about the loss of one student in particular. It is only when she finds a way to reconcile two of her friends and open herself to the attention of another that she takes tentative steps toward emotional peace. Printz Award winner Johnson (The First Part Last, 2004) tells this moving story of grief and guilt with clarity and unsentimental honesty. Scotty, with her rich interior life, is realistically drawn and surrounded by a cast of well-rounded secondary characters.

A wonderfully crafted and deeply satisfying novel, full of detail that provides texture and meaning. (Fiction. 14 & up)