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CROSSING THE WIRE

Fifteen-year-old Mexican Victor Flores is the man of his family. His father died in a construction accident while working illegally in South Carolina. Victor has been making ends meet by growing corn, but governmental subsidies paid to American farmers have cut his profits to near nothing. He realizes that the only way his family will have the money they need to survive is for him to make the risky border crossing himself. He doesn’t have the $1,500 to pay a “coyote” to shepherd him across, so he’s on his own. Victor runs into trouble before he even gets to the border. He makes the crossing once with a “lone wolf” named Miguel and is caught and deported. He meets up with his friend Rico, who has had problems of his own getting to El Norte. Rico tricks Victor into crossing with drug smugglers. Events turn out well enough for Victor, but he’s surrounded by violence and death on his journey. Hobbs has created a page-turning adventure set squarely in the real world. He offers no easy answers and readers who accompany Victor might be enlightened to some harsh political realities. (Fiction. 10-16)

Pub Date: April 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-06-074138-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2006

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THE LOUD SILENCE OF FRANCINE GREEN

It’s 1949, and 13-year-old Francine Green lives in “the land of ‘Sit down, Francine’ and ‘Be quiet, Francine’ ” at All Saints School for Girls in Los Angeles. When she meets Sophie Bowman and her father, she’s encouraged to think about issues in the news: the atomic bomb, peace, communism and blacklisting. This is not a story about the McCarthy era so much as one about how one girl—who has been trained to be quiet and obedient by her school, family, church and culture—learns to speak up for herself. Cushman offers a fine sense of the times with such cultural references as President Truman, Hopalong Cassidy, Montgomery Clift, Lucky Strike, “duck and cover” and the Iron Curtain. The dialogue is sharp, carrying a good part of this story of friends and foes, guilt and courage—a story that ought to send readers off to find out more about McCarthy, his witch-hunt and the First Amendment. Though not a happily-ever-after tale, it dramatizes how one person can stand up to unfairness, be it in front of Senate hearings or in the classroom. (author’s note) (Fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Aug. 14, 2006

ISBN: 0-618-50455-9

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Clarion Books

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2006

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HOLDING SMOKE

Intertwined spectral and real worlds deliver double the thrills.

Leaving his actual body behind in prison, Smoke can move through the world as a ghost in this fantastic yet real portrait of a survivor seeking answers.

John “Smoke” Conlan has survived a brutal beating from his father, a murder conviction, and prison life. His uncanny ability evidently triggered by the beating, Smoke exists inside and outside the fictional Greater Denver Youth Offender Rehabilitation Center (unrealistically represented as a maximum security prison). Smoke keeps his physical body protected on the inside thanks to the balance of favors earned outside his body. On one such errand, he discovers that a young waitress at a seedy dive can actually see him. Smoke’s vivid present-tense narration is filtered according to his concerns. He insists that he is innocent of killing his favorite teacher but guilty of killing a fellow student in self-defense, keeping readers teetering between a belief that the punishment is justified and cheering Smoke on to fight for freedom. The narrative’s romance is chaste, and it tempers the intensity brought to the story by the threats of guards, fellow inmates, and outside criminals. Though the complex plot is based on an impossible premise, readers will be flipping the pages, watching the diverse cast (Smoke is white) race toward the climax.

Intertwined spectral and real worlds deliver double the thrills. (Paranormal suspense. 11-16)

Pub Date: May 3, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4847-2597-9

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Feb. 1, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2016

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