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NUMBER 8 by Anna Fienberg

NUMBER 8

By Anna Fienberg

Age Range: 13 - 16

Pub Date: Aug. 1st, 2007
ISBN: 978-0-8027-9660-8
Publisher: Walker

Excellent characterization and a touching friendship mark this appealing Australian thriller. Thirteen-year-old Jackson and his widowed mother, Valerie, have moved to the suburbs to escape Valerie’s scary former boss. Ever since Valerie spotted drugs at the casino where she sang, she’s lived in fear. Jackson copes with the anxiety by obsessing about numbers. His narrative chapters alternate with those of Esmeralda, his new neighbor and romantic interest, an aspiring singer. Another neighbor and classmate, Asim, a Kurdish refugee, shares a moving friendship with Jackson of a kind rarely portrayed between boys in teen books. Both kind-hearted, they empathize with each other’s troubles and delight in similar interests. They also share a dangerous adventure when the casino boss sends a thug to intimidate Valerie. Music plays a major role throughout, from Esmeralda’s considerable talent to Valerie’s sometimes tedious riffs on rock history. The local bully and Asim, too coincidentally, are also talented musicians. Although Jackson and Esmeralda’s voices are often indistinguishable, they effectively pull the reader into their lives. The suspense builds toward a gripping climax, followed by a gratifying rock-and-roll wrap-up. (Fiction. 13-16)