Suspense, heartbreak, a healthy dose of athletics—this novel has everything that Crutcher’s longtime fans have come to expect, and more.
When distance swimmer Paul “Paulie Bomb” Baum confesses to his girlfriend that he’s cheated on her, he turns to his mentor for advice. During lunch period, Mr. Logsdon—Logs—runs an open classroom where students can freely air their feelings and opinions. Paulie and Hannah’s breakup takes a back seat to the disappearance of straight-A student and Period 8 regular Mary Wells, aka the Virgin Mary. Meanwhile, semi-nemesis Arney seems a lot more manipulative than Paulie would have expected from the student body president, especially when he worms his way into Hannah’s good graces. With his signature straightforward storytelling, economy of language and credible teen voices, the author stretches into new territory here, exploring the emotional toll being coerced into sex against their wills takes on boys as well as girls. While at times plot elements seem disconnected against a backdrop of a wide array of characters and motivations, there’s a lot here that will appeal to teens, including the way that Logs, nearing retirement, plays a little fast and loose with confidential information.
Fast-paced intrigue keeps the reader hanging on as Paulie pieces together clues to the discomfiting truth behind the strange, shadowy behavior of people he trusted. (Fiction. 14 & up)