RESPONSE by Paul Volponi


Age Range: 14 & up
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A white-on-black assault reignites racial tensions between two long-segregated towns, leaving Noah wondering how he can receive justice from a biased judicial system, while Charlie wrestles with his apparent abandonment by the community he sought to defend. Whether at school or while awaiting trial, the two young men prepare to deal with the consequences of their actions. Both voices are hurt and uncertain. Noah’s first-person carries the narrative and has greater sensitivity, while Charlie’s voice, heard via script-like dialogues that punctuate Noah’s account along with newspaper stories, provides a contrast in bravado. Though the characters have a wide emotional range, their personalities do not have a comparable depth. Volponi’s usual feel for interpersonal relationships is missing, leaving the stock characters stale. The narrative lacks his previous subtlety as well, leaving readers feeling browbeaten by a dominating moral message. Noah never honestly acknowledges his culpability, while Charlie’s confession is forced. Readers will appreciate the author’s continued efforts to advocate for urban teens, but will also hope his next work is back on target. (Fiction. YA)

Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 2009
ISBN: 978-0-670-06283-6
Page count: 176pp
Publisher: Viking
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15th, 2009


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