RAT by Jan Cheripko


Age Range: 12 - 14
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In this portrait of a moral dilemma, Cheripko (Imitate the Tiger, 1996, etc.) presents an insecure 15-year-old boy with a deformed arm who can’t decide which is more important: the approval of his friends or telling the truth about a sexual attack he witnessed. Jeremy, or “Rat,” as he is known in his high school, begins by reluctantly testifying against a popular basketball coach, whom he saw assaulting a cheerleader. With the coach convicted and sent to jail, the entire school, and especially the basketball team, ostracize Jeremy. The school’s science teacher takes over as the new coach, imposing on the team not only strong discipline and excellent basketball knowledge, but also a strict moral code. He encourages Jeremy to remain as the team manager despite the hostility of the players, especially Simpson, who threatens violence. Jeremy first believes he’s done wrong by telling the truth, yet Simpson’s uncontrollable behavior appalls him. Cheripko, however, doesn’t portray Simpson as merely a cardboard-cutout villain; instead, he allows readers to discover that Simpson suffers from a handicap less visible but just as debilitating as Jeremy’s withered arm. There’s enough basketball action to attract fans of the sport and the drama keeps flowing. Written with honesty and insight into teenaged angst, this should easily maintain young readers’ interest as well as serve as a discussion starter. (Fiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 2002
ISBN: 1-59078-034-5
Page count: 224pp
Publisher: Boyds Mills
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1st, 2002


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