This effective, character-driven, episodic story examines the consequences of a hate crime on the teens involved in it.
Bock focuses mainly on Skylar, a shy girl, and on her loyalty to her boyfriend Jimmy, whom readers soon learn has beaten a Salvadoran immigrant to death. Although Jimmy’s in jail, the police have little evidence against him. “Everybody knows. Nobody’s talking,” runs the mantra among the high-school crowd that knows full well Jimmy beats up Latinos every Saturday night. The author alternates short chapters written from different characters’ points of view. Readers get to know the involved teenagers and their families, as well as the victim, his brother and their mother. By portraying, simply and without comment, the reactions of the various characters, the author conveys the horror of the crime and the devastating effects on all involved, including those responsible. Sean, Jimmy’s best friend and companion on the fateful night, can’t deal with his guilt but also knows he dare not tell the truth. Lisa Marie sticks by Jimmy with no doubts. Skylar never doubts her love for Jimmy but faces a difficult choice when it transpires that the truth must come from her, or it will not come out at all.
Realistic and devastatingly insightful, this novel can serve as a springboard to classroom and family discussions. Unusual and important. (Fiction. 12 & up)