THAW by Monica M. Roe


Age Range: 14 & up
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Fluid first-person prose reveals an unsympathetic protagonist in a dependent position. Eighteen-year-old Dane’s been hit with Guillain-Barré syndrome and is paralyzed except for his eyes. Sent to a Florida rehab center, his speech returns quickly, but other muscle control requires strenuous work and improves only in minute stages. Chapters in the rehab center alternate with flashbacks to home in upstate New York, where Dane is shown to be self-centered and utterly cold to his ski teammates and girlfriend Elise. His personality’s roots are obvious—emotionally abusive father, neglectful mother—but Dane’s lack of empathy may make it hard for readers to root for him at all. Given that, Roe’s success at creating a smoothly compelling narrative is impressive. Dane achieves full upper-body control but no emotional growth until the very end, in a scene that frustratingly infantilizes two primary female characters. Clearly Dane’s supposed to have learned something, but the turnaround seems vague and negligible, with little regret or remorse. Well written, but ultimately vexing. (Fiction. YA)

Pub Date: May 1st, 2008
ISBN: 978-1-59078-496-9
Page count: 240pp
Publisher: Front Street/Boyds Mills
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15th, 2008