DEVIN RHODES IS DEAD by Jennifer Wolf Kam


Age Range: 11 - 14
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Convinced she is responsible for her best friend’s death, Cass feels haunted by Devin’s ghost even as she tries to hide her guilt.

Cass gradually reveals the actual events in chapters that alternate between “after” and “before.” Devin is not the most likable of creatures though infinitely prettier than her more “ample” friend and completely boy-obsessed. Fifteen-year-old Cass recalls various humiliations at Devin’s hands as well as her increasing isolation from other friends as the result of Devin’s machinations. As the truth of the killing finally emerges, first-time novelist Kam keeps atmosphere, suspense and characters realistically entwined. The language has a somewhat old-fashioned flavor, and although readers are soon likely to suspect that Cass is a rather unreliable narrator, Cass’ supernatural experience and revelation of events unfold smoothly. The well-developed cast of characters provides the needed red herrings in classic mystery fashion. The story is ideal for middle school readers who are on the cusp of discovering their romantic selves; Devin’s reckless, sexualized encounters with the opposite sex contrast well with Cass’ careful exploration of her own interest in a boy who actually sees her and finds her attractive. The charm necklaces the two girls purchase to epitomize their best friend status thread symbolically through the narrative, keeping the focus on their relationship.

A surprisingly deft mystery for early teens. (Mystery. 11-14)

Pub Date: Oct. 14th, 2014
ISBN: 978-1-934133-59-0
Page count: 240pp
Publisher: Mackinac Island Press
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15th, 2014


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