AESOP LAKE by Sarah L. Ward


Age Range: 12 - 18
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A hate crime thrusts two high school acquaintances in rural Vermont into a quandary of loyalty and moral responsibility.

To subdue the temper of handsome, jealous boyfriend David, Leda suggests a skinny dip. When they arrive at the reservoir, gay couple Jonathan and Ricky are already there. David cites religion and biology to support his disgust and summons a cohort to “scare” the boys. Leda pleads for David to leave them alone but is sequestered in the car, frozen. The attack escalates into gunfire, and while Jonathan escapes, Ricky is beaten into a catatonic state. Meanwhile, Leda is blackmailed by David into being his alibi. Wishing to escape the highly publicized hate-crime trial, Leda and Jonathan unwittingly end up at the same wealthy family’s remote lakeside resort (Leda as nanny, Jonathan as family guest). Knowing her alibi is false, Jonathan aggressively confronts Leda. Emphasizing that there’s no shame in recovering at your own pace but no refuge from responsibility either, three illustrated Aesop fables punctuate the well-paced novel, reinforcing the messages imparted. David and his macho cohorts demonstrate that despite progress, retaliation fueled by misguided zealotry is still a real threat. The reprehensibility of not being an ally is communicated without proselytizing, and a discussion guide serves as a conversation starter for this difficult subject. All main characters are white.

A mindful dissection of how allied strength can combat hate. (discussion guide, resources) (Fiction. 12-18)

Pub Date: July 24th, 2018
ISBN: 978-0-9994995-2-8
Page count: 200pp
Publisher: Green Writers Press
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1st, 2018


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