CLOSE TO A KILLER

A secondhand bookstore and a beauty salon staffed by ex-cons are the poles around which this taut whodunit spins. Shuttling between Killer Cuts, the shop her mother Daria opened after serving her murder sentence, and An Open Books [sic], where the owner supplies her with the career romances and old photos she’s taken to collecting, Barrie, 17, is adjusting to city life after growing up with her father in the suburbs. After two murder victims are linked to Killer Cuts, business takes a nosedive, and Barrie and Daria become the targets of a relentless, anonymous vendetta. Throwing in plenty of likely suspects, Qualey (Thin Ice, 1997) cranks up the suspense, as Barrie’s home is vandalized, the shop is torched, and an acquaintance thrown under a moving train; in the end, the murders and the harassment turn out to be the work of an utterly deranged bookseller who attempts to implicate Barrie in his suicide. Although the author doesn’t play entirely fair—by introducing crucial evidence only moments before the climax—readers will be engrossed by the drama, the skillfully developed subplots, and a perceptive exploration of characters learning to live with the consequences of their acts. (Fiction. 12-15)

Pub Date: March 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-385-32597-5

Page Count: 183

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 1998

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WHAT THE MOON SAW

When Clara Luna, 14, visits rural Mexico for the summer to visit the paternal grandparents she has never met, she cannot know her trip will involve an emotional and spiritual journey into her family’s past and a deep connection to a rich heritage of which she was barely aware. Long estranged from his parents, Clara’s father had entered the U.S. illegally years before, subsequently becoming a successful business owner who never spoke about what he left behind. Clara’s journey into her grandmother’s history (told in alternating chapters with Clara’s own first-person narrative) and her discovery that she, like her grandmother and ancestors, has a gift for healing, awakens her to the simple, mystical joys of a rural lifestyle she comes to love and wholly embrace. Painfully aware of not fitting into suburban teen life in her native Maryland, Clara awakens to feeling alive in Mexico and realizes a sweet first love with Pedro, a charming goat herder. Beautifully written, this is filled with evocative language that is rich in imagery and nuance and speaks to the connections that bind us all. Add a thrilling adventure and all the makings of an entrancing read are here. (glossaries) (Fiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 12, 2006

ISBN: 0-385-73343-7

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2006

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PEAK

Dare-devil mountain-climber Peak Marcello (14), decides to scale the Woolworth Building and lands in jail. To save him, his long-lost Everest-trekking dad appears with a plan for the duo to make a life in Katmandu—a smokescreen to make Peak become the youngest person in history to summit Mount Everest. Peak must learn to navigate the extreme and exotic terrain but negotiate a code of ethics among men. This and other elements such as the return of the long-lost father, bite-size chunks of information about climbing and altitude, an all-male cast, competition and suspense (can Peak be the youngest ever to summit Everest, and can he beat out a 14-year-old Nepalese boy who accompanies him?) creates the tough stuff of a “boys read.” The narrative offers enough of a bumpy ride to satisfy thrill seekers, while Peak’s softer reflective quality lends depth and some—but not too much—emotional resonance. Teachers will want to pair this with Mark Pfetzer’s Within Reach: My Everest Story (1998). (Fiction. 12-15)

Pub Date: May 1, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-15-202417-8

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2007

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