NIGHT TRAIN by Judith Clarke


Age Range: 14 & up
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Seventeen-year-old Luke struggles to keep his sanity while his family, his girlfriend, and his school tragically ignore, mistreat, or misunderstand his symptoms. Set in Australia, Luke’s story is told from multiple perspectives, starting from his death and moving back and forth in time. Award-winning Australian author Clarke (The Heroic Life of Al Capsella, not reviewed, etc.) leads the reader into the thoughts and behavior of Luke and the people who define his life. Expelled from two schools because of impulsive behavior, he struggles to stay in Glendale during his final year of high school, but finds it impossible to concentrate on his studies. His father is so disappointed in his academic record that he stops speaking to the boy. Margaret, Luke’s mother, is more sympathetic toward her son, but has difficulty in discussing the situation with either him or her husband. Luke’s adolescent sister hates his nonconformist behavior and avoids him. Only his little sister Naomi and his girlfriend, Caro, have any relationship with him, but even those are flawed by his inability to share his fears and anxieties. Ironically, just as Luke’s father is about to make amends, Luke is killed by the night train whose whistle only he ever hears. The author's intimation that little Naomi, feeling guilty about Luke’s death, is headed toward the same unhappy life as her brother makes the ending even more grim and hopeless. A believable, gripping story, unrelenting and tragic. (Fiction. YA)

Pub Date: June 1st, 2000
ISBN: 0-8050-6151-7
Page count: 200pp
Publisher: Henry Holt
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1st, 2000


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