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by Ron Koertge

Age Range: 14 & up

Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 2001
ISBN: 0-7636-1302-9
Publisher: Candlewick

In a series of free-verse poems, Koertge (Heart of the City, 1998, etc.) sketches out both a large cast of teenagers and an issues-heavy tale of high-school violence narrowly averted. As 15 Branston High seniors, few of them speaking up enough to become distinct characters, make out, break up, and complain about shiftless/demanding/evangelical/too-familiar fathers, classmate Troy adds names to a private list, and stockpiles guns at home, nerving himself for an "apocalypse"—a word he can't always even pronounce. Finally, he gives his intentions away so openly that three teens (with some difficulty) arouse the local police, and another Columbine-style catastrophe is nipped in the bud. With one character citing violence statistics, and others feeling physical attraction to a same-sex friend, becoming an environmental activist, experiencing date rape, reporting potential sexual abuse to a counselor, and encountering racist attitudes, this loses its identity as a story, coming off more as a utilitarian discussion-starter. Even fans of Mel Glenn's soapy novels-in-poetry will be unimpressed. (Fiction. YA)