In a sparse and simply written cautionary tale, Michael Ellis brings a gun to school to scare a girl who has rejected him.
Events move quickly in this fast-paced narrative. One moment, Michael and Ashley are talking in the school hallway. A chapter or two later, they’re going on dates, and just shortly after that, Michael thoughtlessly insults Ashley’s taste in music, and she distances herself from him. The narrative hints as to what’s happening in Michael’s mind and why—insecurities about being from the poor side of town, impulsive anger Michael doesn’t entirely understand himself, a fixation on Ashley that readers may find troubling even though Michael does not—but immediate thoughts and actions rather than emotional analysis are the focus here. When Michael brings his father’s gun to school, he is arrested before any shots can be fired. The second half of the book shows Michael’s life in a juvenile-detention facility, where he largely keeps to himself, and then at Savage Continuation School, “a school for misfits.” A great amount of time elapses in relatively few words, and consequently, Michael’s life and emotional state seem to change somewhat quickly. Readers who discuss or analyze Michael’s journey, however, will find plenty to talk and think about.
A readable and timely tale that covers a lot of ground. (Fiction. 12-16)