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by Gail Giles

Age Range: 12 & up

Pub Date: March 1st, 2003
ISBN: 0-7613-1727-9
Publisher: Roaring Brook

A creepy psychological thriller offers a slick update to the parable of the returning prodigal. With her mother sunk deep in depressive lethargy, and her father indulging in alcoholic binges, 14-year-old Sunny has become the only functioning member of her family since the accidental death of her brilliant, beautiful older sister Jazz. Tossing a bombshell into this corrosive family circle is a letter from Jazz, announcing that the reports of her demise have been greatly exaggerated. But the Jazz who arrives is an imposter; or so Sunny insists, and her father grudgingly concedes, even though her mother accepts her with painful joy. But this Jazz seems to know too many intimate family details, and fit in far too well—or maybe that’s just what Sunny, so often outshone by her sister’s glamour, and the victim of her secret spite, wants to believe. Lies pile upon lies, and secrets upon secrets, in a twisty narrative that turns in on itself so often that the reader is left not knowing quite what is real. Giles (Shattering Glass, 2002) here shows the same acute psychological observation and masterful sense of pacing of her sensational debut, but without the same depth and subtlety. While Sunny is drawn with a sensitive hand, the rest of the characters are too over-the-top to be convincing, and the plot has the feel of a drawn out short story. Still, teen readers will love having their preconceptions continually turned topsy-turvy, and will endlessly debate the tale’s maddeningly ambiguous conclusion. Another winner. (Fiction. 12+)