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WINTER by John Marsden


by John Marsden

Pub Date: Aug. 1st, 2002
ISBN: 0-439-36849-9
Publisher: Scholastic

An Australian import that examines the reverberations a traumatic past has upon the present. Winter is a girl who knows what she wants, and now at 16, she aims to get it. In foster care with diligent but unloving relatives for the past 12 years, she has nagged them and her lawyer into allowing her to return to her family’s cattle ranch. Her goal is not simply to return home—she needs to discover the truth behind her parents’ deaths. When he isn’t writing about hypothetical guerrilla wars, Marsden (The Night Is for Hunting, 2001, etc.) frequently presents stories that conceal a single shocking moment in the past from the reader, and frequently from the protagonist. This offering is one of the latter stripe, and the narrative follows Winter as she not-very-tactfully reasserts her control over her property and begins to plumb her past. Much of the tale reads like teen wish-fulfillment: Winter bullies the adults around her into letting her do what she wants, lives in her own house without supervision and with access to an apparently very large sum of money (which allows her to redecorate at some length), and discovers a handsome and charming boy at the ranch next door. For all that, Winter is an appealingly gutsy narrator who keeps the story moving as she rips up blackberries and insults everyone around her. If the eventual shocker is rather predictable (and therefore not so shocking) and easily discovered, Winter’s own need to learn the truth and ability to assimilate it are well established in the development of her character. Not up to the standard set by the author’s Letters from the Inside (1994), but likely to find a readership nevertheless. (Fiction. YA)