ZACH'S LIE by Roland Smith


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The life Jack Osborne knew has just ended. One night the seventh-grader wakes up to find masked men ransacking his house; the next thing he knows, his father has been arrested for drug trafficking. When the accusations against his dad prove true, Jack, his sister Joanne, and his mother enter the FBI's witness protection program. They must leave everything behind and relocate to a small town in Nevada under an assumed identity. Each member of the family deals with this monumental upheaval in a different way. Jack's mother maintains calm composure, while 16-year-old Joanne sees the experience as an opportunity to hone her acting skills. Only Jack, who becomes Zach in his new life, has difficulty adjusting. The contrast between his wealthy former life and the tiny town they are hiding in is stark. He misses his friends, his school, and, above all, his father. Along with this story line, the author includes two interesting subplots. One involves the drug cartel his father was involved in: they have found the family and are preparing to have them killed to prevent Neil's testimony. A second, more richly drawn layer is the inclusion of a large community of Basque people who live nearby in the mountains, continuing their old-fashioned life as shepherds. Jack/Zach makes connections with them and they play a large part in the conclusion of the novel. An explosive but believable ending leaves a few loose ends, but feels satisfying. Jack/Zach is a complex character, struggling with all kinds of emotions about his new life circumstances while also trying to be a normal teenager. An intriguing idea, well-written, with many heart-stopping moments, this should appeal to a wide variety of readers. (Fiction. 12-14)

ISBN: 0786814403
Page count: 240pp
Publisher: Hyperion