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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)

Pub Date: June 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-7868-0617-6

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2001

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The format of this taut and moving drama forcefully regulates the pacing; breathless, edge-of-the-seat courtroom scenes...

In a riveting novel from Myers (At Her Majesty’s Request, 1999, etc.), a teenager who dreams of being a filmmaker writes the story of his trial for felony murder in the form of a movie script, with journal entries after each day’s action.

Steve is accused of being an accomplice in the robbery and murder of a drug store owner. As he goes through his trial, returning each night to a prison where most nights he can hear other inmates being beaten and raped, he reviews the events leading to this point in his life. Although Steve is eventually acquitted, Myers leaves it up to readers to decide for themselves on his protagonist’s guilt or innocence.

The format of this taut and moving drama forcefully regulates the pacing; breathless, edge-of-the-seat courtroom scenes written entirely in dialogue alternate with thoughtful, introspective journal entries that offer a sense of Steve’s terror and confusion, and that deftly demonstrate Myers’s point: the road from innocence to trouble is comprised of small, almost invisible steps, each involving an experience in which a “positive moral decision” was not made. (Fiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: May 31, 1999

ISBN: 0-06-028077-8

Page Count: 280

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1999

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In an unnamed country (a thinly veiled Philippines), three teenage boys pick trash for a meager living. A bag of cash in the trash might be—well, not their ticket out of poverty but at least a minor windfall. With 1,100 pesos, maybe they can eat chicken occasionally, instead of just rice. Gardo and Raphael are determined not to give any of it to the police who've been sniffing around, so they enlist their friend Rat. In alternating and tightly paced points of view, supplemented by occasional other voices, the boys relate the intrigue in which they're quickly enmeshed. A murdered houseboy, an orphaned girl, a treasure map, a secret code, corrupt politicians and 10,000,000 missing dollars: It all adds up to a cracker of a thriller. Sadly, the setting relies on Third World poverty tourism for its flavor, as if this otherwise enjoyable caper were being told by Olivia, the story's British charity worker who muses with vacuous sentimentality on the children that "break your heart" and "change your life." Nevertheless, a zippy and classic briefcase-full-of-money thrill ride. (Thriller. 12-14)

Pub Date: Oct. 12, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-385-75214-5

Page Count: 240

Publisher: David Fickling/Random

Review Posted Online: Aug. 31, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2010

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