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SHATTERING GLASS by Gail Giles Kirkus Star



Age Range: 14 & up

Pub Date: March 1st, 2001
ISBN: 0-7613-1581-0
Publisher: Roaring Brook

A grimly comic debut novel revisits the dark hell of high-school cliques. The ruling posse at BrazosVale High includes the usual suspects: rich, well-connected “Young” Steward; smooth stud “the Bobster” DeMarco; dumb jock “Coop” Cooper; and the exquisitely cool and charismatic alpha male, Rob Haynes. As a demonstration of power, Rob decides to elevate the school outcast, dweeby Simon Glass, to the heights of popularity. While Simon seems pathetically eager for any crumb of attention, he eventually reveals an agenda all his own. As Simon exposes their hidden vulnerabilities, the agents of Rob’s whims explode into shocking violence. While grownups might cavil at the ubiquitous adult cruelty and cluelessness, most teens will nod with recognition at the adolescent characters. Giles skates the fine edge of stereotyping, but manages to give his characters authentic voices; the narrator Young is particularly well realized, with his sardonic wit, his artist’s sensitivity, and his tightly wrapped rage. As much provocateur as victim, Simon subtly goads the reader into compliance with his eventual murder. Even though the denouement is known almost from the outset—Young is sent to prison for the crime—this narrative device actually heightens tension as the reader struggles against its awful inevitability. Most intriguing are the quotes heading each chapter, revealing the perspectives of the characters five years later, and which raise questions of justice, mercy, and individual responsibility. A sure-fire hit for book discussion groups, from a writer to watch. (Fiction. YA)