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GOING UNDER by Kathe Koja


by Kathe Koja

Age Range: 14 & up

Pub Date: Sept. 15th, 2006
ISBN: 0-374-30393-2
Publisher: Frances Foster/Farrar, Straus & Giroux

This distinctively ambiguous story features Hilly and Ivan, two intelligent, home-schooled siblings, and tells how their relationship is forever changed as Hilly copes with a tragedy shortly after making the decision to work on a literary magazine at a public school. Older brother Ivan has a curious and inappropriate amount of power over Hilly and their parents, leading readers to wonder if something sinister lies beneath the surface of the narrative. Hurt at Hilly’s decision to have a life outside of their familial cocoon, Ivan takes control of her recovery, encouraging her to journal her feelings and see a therapist. But the therapist, too, embodies something disturbing, and eventually he seduces Ivan into betraying Hilly for his own gain. Ivan’s and Hilly’s voices alternate to tell the story, and seem to embody the myths of Persephone and Narcissus, which are heavily alluded to throughout. Like many Greek myths, Koja’s narrative is laced with foreboding, but an uncertain ending leaves readers to decipher the story’s messages about family, intense love and betrayal. (Fiction. YA)