A FAST AND BRUTAL WING by Kathleen Jeffrie Johnson
Kirkus Star


Age Range: 14 & up


Letters, e-mails, newspaper articles, and short-story excerpts piece together a haunting tale of three teens coping with loss and grief. Hard-edged Niki copes with her father’s abandonment by believing she and her brother, Emmet, have the power to transform into animals. Classmate Doug sympathizes, and is drawn to the pair as he struggles with his own mother’s recent death. After a disturbing incident Halloween night involving the three teens and enigmatic fantasy-writer Nicholas Slanger, Slanger mysteriously disappears and Emmet is inexplicably institutionalized. Rumors that Emmet and Niki have an incestuous relationship begin to circulate; some speculate that their strange, animal-like behavior is a means to escape their own shame. While Doug vehemently denies this possibility, Niki’s short-story excerpts seem to support the theory. Emmet, however, credits Niki with a vivid imagination and supposes that her writings are symptomatic of their father’s betrayal. The truth is uncertain, creating a memorable read that allows fantasy, mystery, and realistic fiction fans alike to examine the power of love and its connection to vulnerability, loss, and fear. (Fiction. YA)

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 2004
ISBN: 1-59643-013-3
Page count: 192pp
Publisher: Roaring Brook
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1st, 2004


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