A teenager, sentenced to volunteer at an animal shelter, discovers her calling in this debut YA novel.
Casey Riley, 16, was excited about rehearsing her role as Rizzo for a summer production of Grease, but instead she’s been ordered to volunteer at an animal shelter by Juvenile Court. This is punishment for Casey’s revenge against Cindy Bender, a mean, rich girl who sabotaged Casey’s friend’s audition. “My emotions always seem to mess me up somehow,” confesses Casey. Or, as her father puts it: “You’ve always had a temper and stood up for those who need help.” Ron Parrisi, a kind boy with a lopsided grin, is in the musical; an animal lover, he’s also working over the summer at the shelter, and he and Casey become friends. Casey gets involved in caring for the dogs, discovering she has a talent for helping neglected or mistreated ones. She also understands more fully how stress over money affects the shelter, her own family, and even seemingly secure families like Cindy’s, as she comes to know the girl better. After weathering a dramatic incident in which she’s injured protecting a dog, Casey writes about the ripple effects of compassion, and begins to think her true calling is as a veterinarian. Though McKinley mentions animal neglect and abuse in her novel, she avoids anything that would be too upsetting for animal fans, focusing instead on rescue and rehabilitation. These scenes also contribute to characterization, showing Casey and her family at their best. Things work out a little too easily, for example with a convenient philanthropist for the shelter, but the tale remains thoughtful about money and society. Casey confronts the usual teenage problems, but she also conveys her deep caring for animals. And it’s good to see a YA novel where the heroine is more concerned about her vocation than about attracting a boyfriend. She and Ron like each other, but she’s not desperate for him, and that’s OK for now—a balanced perspective for a girl whose emotions can overtake her.
A nicely handled coming-of-age story, ideal for dog lovers.
A highly organized, informative discussion of the immigration system in the United States.
In this politically charged environment, Afrasiabi manages to broach the volatile issue of immigration in a well-rounded, surprisingly effective framework that combines case studies, historical research, statistical analysis and personal anecdotes to detail the current issues and propose solutions. Invocations of Kafka, “The Twilight Zone” and “Alice in Wonderland” prove warranted as illustrations of the often surreal circumstances that confront immigrants facing deportation. Immigrants usually lack access to quality legal representation, while their situation can be made doubly difficult due to language barriers and significant cultural differences. Afrasiabi incorporates his work with colleagues and students at the Chapman University School of Law to deftly weave together the facts of several compelling cases and their underlying legal issues, with a genuine sense of suspense as readers wonder if justice will be truly be served. Occasionally, though, the narrative becomes overwrought—two federal laws passed in 1996 are “dark storm clouds depositing their sleet”—although, considering the life-changing effects of court decisions, it’s difficult to overstate the ramifications: extralegal rendition of individuals with pending cases and the de facto deportation of native-born children whose parents are deported. Afrasiabi also addresses the legacy of various anti-alien laws in California, as well as marriage equality for same-sex couples when one partner is a noncitizen. As the subtitle asserts, Afrasiabi employs his additional experience in the field of property law to contrast the stark differences between immigration judges and constitutional judges, like their qualifications, vetting processes and even the oaths they take. His arguments culminate in seven concrete reforms proposed in the conclusion. In order to make the immigration system more just and effective, Afrasiabi claims the solutions are closer than we may think; we can implement procedures and safeguards already in place within the constitutional courts.
A persuasive, valuable addition to the ongoing immigration reform debate.
Walkley pits CIA agents against a maniacal Saudi prince intent on starting World War III in this debut thriller.
Delta Force operative Lee McCloud, aka Mac, finds himself in Mexico, trying to rescue two teenage girls kidnapped by a drug cartel. But things go from bad to worse when the villains don’t play by the rules. Framed for two murders he didn’t commit, Mac has two options: go to prison or go to work for a CIA black-op group run by the devious Wisebaum, who hacks into terrorists’ bank accounts and confiscates millions of dollars. However, there’s more going on than meets the eye; Saudi Prince Khalid is in possession of nuclear canisters, with which he hopes to alter world history. Khalid also dabbles in trafficking young women, and harvesting and selling human organs. When Wisebaum’s black-op team targets Khalid’s father, the action becomes even more intense. With so many interweaving subplots—kidnapped girls, Israeli undercover agents, nuclear weapons and a secret underwater hideout—it could be easy to lose track of what’s going on. But the author’s deft handling of the material ensures that doesn’t occur; subplots are introduced at the appropriate junctures and, by story’s end, all are accounted for and neatly concluded. Mac is portrayed as a rough and ready action-hero, yet his vulnerabilities will evoke empathy in readers. He finds a love interest in Tally, a hacker whose personality is just quirky enough to complement his own. All Walkley’s primary characters are fleshed out and realistic, with the exception of Wisebaum—a malicious, double-dealing, back-stabber of the worst ilk; the reader is left wondering about Wisebaum’s motivations behind such blatant treachery.
Despite this, Walkley’s beefy prose and rousing action sequences deliver a thriller to satisfy any adrenaline addict.