Age Range: 12 - 15
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The author bases this latest on a premise so unlikely it is almost laughable, yet the characters involved are worth caring about. When Feena was four, her beloved baby brother Christopher died of SIDS. Now ten years later, Feena’s father is gone and her mother has moved the two of them to Florida for a fresh start. Things are pretty bleak: a hot, cramped house wedged between the highway and a rundown kiddie amusement park. There, Feena sees a mother hitting and insulting her toddler on several occasions. While the abuse is not horrific by current standards, the coldness and cruelty of this mother are clear. Feena is struck not only by the awful treatment of the toddler, but also by his name: Christopher, the same as her dead brother. The last straw comes when Feena witnesses the mother leaving Christopher in the parking lot and driving away. She rescues (kidnaps?) Christy and decides to hide him. Very soon it becomes clear that Feena is in over her head. She has no money, no place to hide him, and she’s supposed to be in school. Added to the dubious nature of the plot, the most popular girl in school finds out about him and is immediately drawn to saving him, too. The girls succeed for a few weeks but the situation becomes too much for them, and Feena returns the little boy to his mother in spite of what they know. Feena plans to keep in touch with the mother in an effort to prevent future abuse, but when she returns for her first visit, Christy and his family are gone. The girls struggle with many issues around Christy’s kidnapping and disappearance. They wonder if they are justified in breaking the law to save a child, and why the law hasn’t protected him before. They wonder what kind of life he will have and where his mother has taken him. Both girls are complex characters, well drawn and sympathetic. What this lacks in realism, it makes up for in character development and “issue raising” and would be great for classroom discussion in a junior-high language arts class. (Fiction. 12-15)

Pub Date: May 1st, 2001
ISBN: 0-7636-1371-1
Page count: 240pp
Publisher: Candlewick
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1st, 2002


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