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by J.L. Powers

Age Range: 14 & up

Pub Date: July 10th, 2007
ISBN: 978-0-375-83872-9
Publisher: Knopf

Strained racial tensions snap after a student’s violent death. MacKenzie Malone’s dedication to national pride frays relationships at his El Paso high school, where students are still recovering from last year’s suicide bombing of a local bridge by a Mexican national protesting the treatment of immigrant workers. Malone turns up dead hours after a confrontation with a fellow student, and his classmates must examine their own prejudices to restore order in a polarized community. The six distinct voices used to examine the tension between adopted country and ethnic pride rarely falter; the fast pace of events ensure the narrative remains compelling. Convincing friendships and feuds create a sense of the long-standing relationships between classmates and reflect the transitive nature of the high-school social structure. Powers devotes most of his story to establishing those intricate networks, ultimately leaving the motivation for Malone’s murder unclear at best. Though the ending is unsatisfying, the depiction of a post-9/11 world revisiting issues of nationalism and prejudice makes this tale relevant to modern audiences. (Fiction. YA)