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COMPROMISED by Heidi Ayarbe

COMPROMISED

By Heidi Ayarbe

Age Range: 14 & up

Pub Date: May 1st, 2010
ISBN: 978-0-06-172849-5
Publisher: Wicker Park/Academy Chicago

Maya, the world-weary daughter of a seasoned con, finds solace in using scientific equations to exert order over the chaos of her life. So when her father lands behind bars in Reno and signs 15-year-old Maya over to the state, she methodically formulates a plan for escape. But when she sets out to find a long-lost aunt, Maya soon finds herself saddled with Nicole, an illiterate kleptomaniac, and Klondike, a ten-year-old with Tourette’s. As the unlikely trio heads north, winter sets in, further complicating a journey through shattered hopes and harsh consequences. Ayarbe doesn’t pander to her readers: She tackles the grim realities of homelessness—sexual exploitation, drug use and mental illness, among them—with a brutal frankness. With a sharp ear for dialogue (asked how he’s feeling, Klondike replies: “Like I was eaten by a wolf and shit out over a cliff”) and prose propelled by a searing urgency, the author plumbs the depths of her characters’ souls for horrors and treasures alike. A poignant portrait slightly marred by its fairy-tale ending, out of place in an otherwise devastated landscape. (Fiction. 14 & up)