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I Was Here.
Forman, Gayle (author).
Jan. 2015. 288p. Viking, hardcover, $18.99 (9780451471475). Grades 9-12.
First published October 15, 2014 (Booklist).
Eighteen-year-old Cody’s best friend, Meg, has committed suicide, and Cody is determined to discover why and how it could be that she didn’t sense what Meg was contemplating. As she begins her investigation, she meets a young musician, Ben, with whom Meg was obsessed but who rejected her. How responsible might he have been for Meg’s death? How will Cody deal with his growing presence in her own life? And what is the meaning of the strange, encrypted message she discovers on Meg’s computer? At first Cody finds more questions than answers, but she is dogged in her pursuit of knowledge and gradually comes ever closer to the startling truth. Suicide has always been a subject in YA literature, and to her credit, Forman handles it sensitively and gracefully, raising important issues of the ethics and morality of the subject. The combination mystery and love story is sure to reach a wide readership and excite essential discussion.
HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: With the big-budget film adaptation of Forman’s best-seller If I Stay (2009) still lingering in theaters, this latest offering should generate massive teen interest.
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MISTER HORIZONTAL & MISS VERTICAL
Inspired by a photograph showing a
family of three, the man wearing horizontal stripes, the woman vertical, and
the child a checkered shirt, this whimsical debut picture book challenges the
limits of ultradesigned books for children.
The characteristics and preferences
of the pinheaded protagonists are illustrated in bold geometric black and white
on strong, flat background colors. Mister Horizontal, predictably, loves the
smooth, gliding motions of rollerblading and sailing. Miss Vertical prefers
dizzying aerial adventures; she “loves launching herself into orbit and looping
through the air.” Mister Horizontal likes to bend and stretch, (which action
confusingly causes his stripes to be vertical on the page.) Miss Vertical, the
thrill seeker, loves high-wire acrobatics, elevators, bungee jumping, rockets,
skyscrapers and balloons. Mister Horizontal, more down-to-earth, prefers the
desert, the ocean, ants marching in straight lines, lounging, napping and
gardening. The book’s ulterior motive is suddenly revealed at the end, in
a question: “Now what do you think… / …their child will love?” And there is
their child, wearing a checkered shirt, just like the boy in a closing photo. Witty,
clever, elegantly designed but certainly not touchy-feely, this book is a
somewhat strained synthesis of graphic illustration, seemingly designed to
teach the concept of orientation in conjunction with an analysis of personality
Eye-catching though it is, it is
unlikely to displace more traditional, warmer offerings on this subject. (Picture
OLDER THAN GOODBYE
In his first official
assignment as a detective, a small-town lawman is jolted way out of his comfort
zone with a complex case that stretches halfway across the world.
Judd Wheeler, the police chief of sleepy little Prosperity, North Carolina,
answers a call about a juvenile troublemaker named Spud Corliss and finds
himself flat on his back, victim of the young offender's marksmanship. Fast-forward
two months, and Judd, who narrates in an amiable first person, returns to the
job a little shakily. Childhood friend Kent Kramer, now the mayor, again
suggests Judd take on a detective role as well, sweetening the offer with the
title Chief Detective. The timing is ideal, and Kent’s an earnest charmer; Judd
accepts. His first case is a disappearance at a property handled, as it
happens, by Kent. Roger Guthrie and his wife, Natalie, have been married for
three years. Previously a widower, he works for a nearby bank and she's from
Russia, both bits of information Judd finds worthy of further investigation.
Roger's boss, Albert York, reports recent erratic behavior, and neighbors heard
loud arguments between the couple. When Judd requests info on Natalie from
Immigration, he gets a visit from slick Homeland Security Agent Jack Cantrell, a clear signal that sets Judd on the trail of an international criminal. Judd's
full plate becomes overstuffed with the surprise reappearance of an old nemesis
named Sean “Shug” Burch.
Helms' third Judd Wheeler procedural (Thunder Moon, 2011, etc.) has an
appealing transparency and an easy rhythm, turning the reader into a sidekick
in Judd's methodical probe.
AND GRANT YOU PEACE
A fire in a mosque provides new ways
to put the sorely tried Sgt. Joe Burgess of the Portland Police Department to
ever more challenging tests.
There’s not much Burgess can tell
about what’s happened. He knows there’s a fire at the mosque because a brave
and resourceful foster child, Jason Stetson, tells him about it while it’s
still blazing. He knows that someone locked a young woman and a baby in a
closet and left them to die—a wish all too completely fulfilled in the infant’s
case. He knows the surviving young woman, lying in a hospital bed at Maine
Medical Center, is too traumatized to say a word and that Imam Muhamud Ibrahim has
ordered his followers, many of them family members, not to say anything either.
And he knows that the mosque has become the center of a violent power struggle
that’s entangled unsavory Kimani Yates, whose visit to the hospital terrifies
the mute young woman with good reason; William “Butcher” Flaherty, the
eye-patched Iron Angel biker whose business with the imam remains shadowy; and
property mogul Addison Westerly, whose shell company owns the mosque he’s been
at pains to distance himself from. But “the meanest cop in Portland” (Redemption, 2012, etc.) doesn’t know how the pieces of this jigsaw
fit together or who the dead baby is or how to resolve the racial and cultural
tensions that swirl around the mosque or even how to keep his live-in lover,
Chris Perlin, and his suddenly growing family safe from the fallout.
As usual, Flora pours on the intensity
for both her police detective and his fans in this criminal, legal and moral
maze whose center is clearly a locked closet in a burning mosque but whose
boundaries remain frustratingly hazy even at the fade-out.