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CRUNCH TIME by Mariah Fredericks


by Mariah Fredericks

Age Range: 12 & up

Pub Date: Jan. 1st, 2006
ISBN: 0-689-86938-X
Publisher: Richard Jackson/Atheneum

Four juniors, who attend the same Manhattan private high school, find themselves in an SAT review class and, at the sight of a flaky instructor, decide to skip out to form their own study group. In alternating voices, the four relate a story that’s not big on plot but large on interior thinking. At first the author seems workmanlike in her storytelling, steadily building to a crisis involving the four, but she supplies enough subtext to keep readers amused and guessing about characters until the central conflict unfolds: Someone has cheated on the SATs and somehow one of the four is involved. Fredricks is particularly adept at carrying the narrative line chronologically through the alternating perspectives of the four teens. Speakers change without missing a beat. Readers might be confused initially between the two boys (Max and Leo) and the two girls (Jane and Daisy), but personalities quickly emerge and diverge into individual belief systems yearning to be formed, with plenty of personal inner demons to help that along. College-bound readers will find this page-turner immediately absorbing; it might amuse all high schoolers who are about to or have already participated in this American rite of passage. (Fiction. 12+)