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JUST IN CASE by Meg Rosoff Kirkus Star

JUST IN CASE

By Meg Rosoff

Age Range: 14 & up

Pub Date: Aug. 8th, 2006
ISBN: 0-385-74678-4
Publisher: Wendy Lamb/Random

Rosoff examines the idea of fate through minutely observed, concatenated catastrophes and the intersection of exquisitely drawn characters (including a delusional protagonist), in an England-set novel as powerful as her Printz-winning debut, How I Live Now (2004). After barely managing to save his toddler brother from “flying” off a windowsill, David Case, almost 16, already struggling with acute anxiety, concludes that only a complete self-reinvention will save him from the sure doom that Fate holds—for his former self. Browsing in a charity shop to outfit the new him, now-Justin meets Agnes, an older, outrageously adorned photographer/fashion designer. She takes on the smitten Justin as a project, capturing his edgy desperation in photos. She rescues him from both a hallucinatory stint at the local airport (where wackily, he temporarily loses his imaginary dog), and (after clicking away voyeuristically with her camera) the bloody aftermath of a plane crash. Justin drifts away—from his outrageously preoccupied parents, school’s banality; reality—but also toward connections that keep him this side of sane. Agnes’s several betrayals—including her brief sexual attention—rekindle Justin’s self-affirming anger. There’s Peter, a compassionate, confidently nerdy schoolmate, whose sage little sisters fairly command Justin’s emergence from a coma induced by spinal meningitis and prolonged by Justin’s urge to surrender to a cynical, beckoning Fate, who vituperates, personified, in bold type throughout. Little Charlie, the ostensible reason for Justin’s crackup, telegraphs, like a small, joyful Buddha, an uncomplicated truth that Justin, too, can finally embrace. Funny, ironic, magically real; stunning. (Fiction. YA)