ZERO AT THE BONE by Michael Cadnum


Age Range: 12 & up
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 A teenage daughter's disappearance hits a North Oakland family hard in this bitter story from the author of Taking It (1995). Cray Buchanan belongs to a family of industrious, upscale, strong-minded winners. On the same day, he prevents a disaster at his father's factory and is invited to play quarterback on his high school football team. His mother is a respected paleontologist and his father is a successful businessman and active participant in a variety of causes. All their assets, all their competence, turn to ashes when Clay's sister, Anita, doesn't come home one day. With characteristic energy, the Buchanans spring into action, making phone calls, enlisting aid, distributing flyers, all to no avail, until their hopes begin to drain. Cray describes the ensuing changes in himself and his parents in a slightly detached tone that makes the plot's grimmer moments--rummaging through dumpsters, rushing to the morgue when police find a partially decomposed body (not Anita's, as it turns out)--even more heartrending. Was she kidnapped, or did she leave on her own? Cadnum doesn't tell, though a few cryptic lines in Anita's diary hint at a secret in her life. In the end, there is no end: no explanations, no leads, no Anita. As is true of the family in Susan Beth Pfeffer's The Year Without Michael (1987)--just as moving but without Cadnum's grit--Cray and his parents can only go on, nursing wounds that are already beginning to scar. A painful subject, mercilessly explored. (Fiction. 12-18)

Pub Date: Aug. 1st, 1996
ISBN: 0-670-86725-X
Page count: 202pp
Publisher: Viking
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15th, 1996


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