Reviews

Publishers Weekly
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Set in 1972, against the steamy summer of a Washington, D.C., suburb filled with the buzz of locusts and Walter Cronkite's breaking news reports on Watergate, Berne's marvelously controlled first novel explores the effect of a boy's brutal murder on a community and on a 10-year-old girl, a neighbor of the murdered child, whose own world is falling apart. With an elegiac beauty and sadness, the girl, Marsha, looks back from the vantage point of adulthood and tells how the story of the murder became her own story. She brings a keen observance of the events of that summer: of the night her mother smashed every dish on the table after confronting Marsha's father with knowledge of his affair with her favorite sister; of the desolate aftermath of the father's leaving; of the murder, followed by neighborhood night patrols; and of the fearful actions of a community that rallied not around the family of the dead boy but around its own desire for safety. At the climax of the story lies Marsha's role in a murder accusation leveled at an innocent neighbor. The menace and surface beauty of Berne's suburban landscape will remind many of the worlds of John Cheever or Shirley Jackson. Through seamless narrative structure, an extraordinary sense of lightness and suspense and a deeply affecting conclusion, Berne's debut delivers a resonant portrait of a girl's, a community's and a country's loss of innocence. Author tour. (June) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved


Book list
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

Events rock a family, a community, and a nation in 1972 in this quietly affecting first novel. The Eberhardts are like the other families in the Maryland suburb of Spring Hill until Larry Eberhardt has an affair with wife Lois' favorite sister, disrupting not only his nuclear family but also all the other sisters' lives. Then a 12-year-old boy in the neighborhood is found molested and murdered behind the nearby mall, shattering the community's sense of security. The adult Marsha, narrating the story 25 years later, recounts how that summer she tracked their new neighbor--a balding, middle-aged bachelor who didn't fit in--and, almost despite herself, fabricated a story and made an accusation. Finally, the unfolding drama of Watergate in the background becomes intertwined with what is happening in Spring Hill. Berne is equally skillful at both capturing nuances of family life and detailing the potentially devastating effects of one person's actions on others in this impressive literary debut. --Michele Leber


Library Journal
(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

During the summer of 1973, as the Watergate story breaks, headlines are made in a D.C. suburb when a 12-year-old boy is molested and murdered behind an area strip mall. Not as widely reported is the divorce of ten-year-old Marsha's parents. Narrated by Marsha, this first novel maintains a nicely edgy quality as the family breaks up: Marsha's father moves out, her teenage siblings dabble in smoking and shoplifting, and her mother deals with the stresses of single parenthood in the relatively unliberated Seventies. When the boy's murder remains unsolved, and the neighborhood loses its sense of security and innocence, Marsha copes by keeping a minutely detailed journal whose obsessive details threaten to mire the story. But Berne pull through, managing to hold the reader's interest to the end of this thoughtful first work. Recommended for public libraries.‘Reba Leiding, Rensselaer Polytechnic Inst. Lib., Troy, N.Y. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


School Library Journal
(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

YA‘In the summer of 1972, a suburban neighborhood of Washington, DC, is rocked by the molestation and murder of a 12-year-old boy. Marsha Eberhardt, then 10, begins to gather clues and information. Told by the adult Marsha, the story uncannily depicts the reasoning and thought processes of a vulnerable and confused girl. As the nation sifts through the Watergate disillusionment and Spring Hill tries to deal with the gruesome murder, Marsha is trying to accept the fact that her father has deserted the family for her mother's youngest sister. Struck by the observational powers of Sherlock Holmes, Marsha decides she will begin recording facts, observations, and clues about her family and neighborhood. When a new neighbor moves in, Marsha begins to record his every movement in her "Evidence" notebook. Anyone who has suffered through a family breakup, or knows someone who has, will relate to the youngster's thoughts and decisions. Dealing with an anger she cannot articulate, the girl becomes caught in a lie she cannot stop herself from telling. The adult Marsha considers the "what if" possibilities that may have prevented an incident that haunts her life, but the child was inexorably caught in the lies that took on a life of their own. A compelling book that will easily capture the imagination of YAs.‘Carol DeAngelo, formerly at Fairfax County Public Library, VA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.