My eyes are not even focusing right. I think it has something to do with staring at the pages of a book for several hours without a break. Blame it all on Gail Giles. I remember years ago when Robert Cormier spoke at the YA conference we sponsor each year on campus. One of my students came up to me after his presentation and said something to the effect that he looked so nice and normal, not the person she had pictured as the author of CHOCOLATE WAR and other novels. Ditto Gail Giles. This woman is a kind and funny and warm person. And yet her books...
Kip is still a child when he sets a friend on fire. He spends several years in an institution for mentally disturbed juvenile offenders. How could he have done this terrible thing? More importantly, why did he commit this murder? Kip, with lots of help from therapy and from his father, is finally ready to be released and enter into a society he has not been a part of for most of his childhood. Can he handle the reentry? Is his stability fragile? Will others discover what he must keep a secret for the safety of himself and his family?
No easy answers here, folks. Giles causes readers to live Kip's experiences. There is no way a reader can cast her or his eyes aside from the cold hard facts facing Kip, Can we truly root for him? Is there such a thing as a happy ending for someone who has killed a child? The story stutters and starts just like Kip's life in and out of the institutions. It keeps the reader off balance, like Kip surely must feel. In short, Giles makes it easy for the reader to enter into Kip's world, his reality, his recovery, and all the bumps and twists and turns along the way. Thankfully, there are caring and loving and wonderful adults in Kip's life, adults who offer unconditional love and acceptance.
Thanks, Gail, for another absorbing read, for a book that once again demonstrates your incredible ability to tell a story, for a resolution that offers hope that things will resolve somehow. Thanks for the eye strain!
PS: The lovely Victoria Stapleton has offered some ARCs to good homes. Email her if you are interested in developing eye strain, too: Victoria.Stapleton@hbgusa.com