An intriguing mystery, a cataclysmic storm and a school bus accident converge with extraordinary results.
Nine of the students who ride Mrs. B.’s school bus are about to find their lives intersecting in unexpected ways. A new stop on their established bus route stirs little curiosity until several students notice that a passenger never appears. As seventh-grader Bender collaborates with other students in his quest for the truth, they uncover the repercussions of a tragic event that occurred nearly two decades earlier. Cheaney immediately immerses readers in the action, opening with the chaotic accident scene and then transitioning back nine months to the first day of school. Following the months of the school year, the chapters highlight different characters. Even as she drops subtle hints regarding the mystery, the author reveals the challenges the characters face. With the nine key characters in a variety of middle school grades and situations, the tale explores a range of life experiences. It addresses familiar issues, such as defining self-worth and social relationships. With compassion and insight, Cheaney also delves into the anguish that comes with watching a beloved family member decline into illness and explores the effects secrecy has on children’s lives. As events culminate in the accident, the characters must rely upon their inner resolve during a crucial turning point.
Cheaney effectively combines multiple layers of mystery with an uplifting message about resilience. (Mystery. 10-14)