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STAINED by Jennifer Richard Jacobson Kirkus Star

STAINED

By Jennifer Richard Jacobson

Age Range: 14 & up

Pub Date: March 1st, 2005
ISBN: 0-689-86745-X
Publisher: Richard Jackson/Atheneum

Although set in the 1970s, this well-written and suspenseful story deals with contemporary issues. Flashbacks of Joss’s childhood adventures with Gabe—who’s missing—are wedged between chapters describing Joss’s uncertainty over Benny, her God-fearing boyfriend who recently severed ties with her because of their physical attraction to one another. Joss has worried about having a “stained” soul ever since she was denied First Communion due to missing Sunday school. A disturbing incident involving Gabe and his cousin Jay heightened Joss’s childhood fear that she was somehow tainted. The culminating blow comes when Benny admits that Father Warren told him to end his relationship with Joss because she is “in partnership with the devil.” Meanwhile, Joss’s memories guide her to Gabe’s hideout after she’s led to believe that his disappearance is also linked to Father Warren. The final message is one of hope and salvation after a shocking secret vindicates Joss, freeing her from needless guilt. Jacobson’s admirable first work for young adults is one in which controversial topics are delicately handled. Provocative—and timely. (Fiction. YA)