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HARD HIT by Ann Turner Kirkus Star


by Ann Turner

Age Range: 12 & up

Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 2006
ISBN: 0-439-29680-3
Publisher: Scholastic

Mark Warren’s world is about to be turned upside down by his father’s sudden diagnosis of cancer in this novel written in a spare, masterful sequence of poems. The tenth grader, an aspiring star pitcher, still has an innocence and ability to feel, qualities absent from much of contemporary YA fiction. And while the story follows a formulaic structure—Mark’s got a best friend and falls in love—both these characters support Mark with genuine warmth and affection through the ups and downs of his father’s treatment. What keeps this arresting is the kindness and understanding of the characters—not just Mark’s friends, but his family, too—and the astonishing minimalist language of each poem that advances the storyline and reveals Mark’s attempt to grapple with everything. There isn’t a lot of background noise: no sidebar conversations into other character’s unhappy or dysfunctional lives; the focus is clearly on Mark, life and death and the exquisitely evoked simple and complex mysteries of the universe. Backmatter includes “National Help Lines” for further information on cancer and organizations to help children with bereavement. (Fiction. 12+)