DEFENDER by Graham McNamee


Age Range: 12 - 18
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Finding a long-dead body in the basement of her run-down Toronto apartment building sends Tyne searching for uncomfortable truths.

Ironically nicknamed "Tiny," 6-foot-6-inch Tyne sees basketball as her best hope for a future outside the Zoo, the "slum tower" where her father has been a super for years. While recovering from an injury, Tyne visits the basement to help her father with repairs and discovers a girl's dead and mutilated body. When she tells her father about her find, his nervous cover story and subsequent disappearance—for just enough time to bury the body—raise immediate red flags. Shaken, Tyne confides in her "guy," Stick, and the two begin an investigation into ugly aspects of family and neighborhood history. The ambiance is heavy and suspenseful, and acts of violence large and small haunt the narrative, from a sleazy slumlord's dangerous neglect to a multigenerational legacy of abuse in Tyne's own family. The loss of trust between Tyne and her father is as omnipresent here as the questions about the dead girl's identity and fate, and the equal, caring, and mutually respectful partnership between Tyne, white, and Stick, multiracial Latino-Caribbean, stands as a welcome foil to the abusive relationships elsewhere.

Tense, fast-moving, and atmospheric. (Mystery. 12-18)

Pub Date: April 12th, 2016
ISBN: 978-0-553-49895-0
Page count: 240pp
Publisher: Wendy Lamb/Random
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1st, 2016


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