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*Starred Review* Mikey's 15-year-old sister, Karyn, is holed up in the family's apartment, unwilling to go out or see anyone since accusing an older boy of sexual assault. Feeling helpless and outraged, Mikey vows to seek revenge for his sister, even as the court case against Tom Parker continues. Meanwhile, Tom's sister, Ellie, the only witness to the alleged crime, feels unsure about her statement to the police. When Mikey (who at first hides his identity) meets Ellie, their attraction to each other only exacerbates matters. The family dynamics of their very different home lives powerfully dictate the moves each makes: Mikey lives with a drunken single mother in subsidized housing, while Ellie comes from a family of privilege. Ellie's dilemma is especially harrowing, threatening to separate her from one or both of her parents as the day of her testimony approaches. Each time, Ellie and Mikey draw close, pull apart, then draw close again, Downham puts readers inside their heads, feeling and understanding their complicated emotions as she masterfully shifts points of view. This excellent sophomore effort from the author of Before I Die (2007) should have broad appeal for teens looking for weighty issues tied to their romance.--Cruze, Karen Copyright 2010 Booklist
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After Mikey's 15-year-old younger sister Karyn accuses college student Tom Parker of raping her, Mikey plans to avenge her. But when he goes to the Parkers' sprawling house, heavy spanner in hand, he meets Tom's younger sister, Ellie, and an attraction sparks between them. Downham's (Before I Die) sophomore novel is set in coastal England, and while there's a fair amount of detail about the English legal and school systems, as well as regional vernacular, the book's powerful themes are universal. As Mikey and Ellie's relationship deepens, and both feel forced to choose "sides," they struggle with their loyalty to their families, their feelings for one another, and broader issues of class, gender, and power. Well-drawn characters allow readers to sympathize with nearly everyone; Ellie, "the primary witness," is in a particularly difficult spot as she begins to waver about testifying for her brother ("I keep going over and over that night in my head and more stuff comes back to me, more things fit into place," she says). With no tidy solutions, it's an unflinching portrayal of love under pressure. Ages 14-up. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
School Library Journal
(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Gr 8 Up-Mikey's life is a juggling act: Mum spends her days and nights with cheap sherry, seven-year-old sister Holly needs help getting to school each day, and Mikey is working at a menial job that offers the hope of a tantalizing career. He faces further complications when his 15-year-old sister, Karyn, completely withdraws, suffering the devastating aftermath of a rape by Tom Parker. Ellie Parker has always been a quiet little nerd until she witnesses her brother's brutal sexual assault of her classmate. The pressure from her family to protect Tom at all costs has forced her into the position of fabricating a statement to the police about what she knows. For both Mikey and Ellie, the balancing act of their personal lives becomes more precarious when they meet. They are drawn to each other but are torn between family solidarity, an inability to trust any member of the enemy's family, and the feelings of their hearts. Downham brilliantly captures the struggle of these two star-crossed lovers as they navigate the stormy waters of family loyalty, social workers and legal systems, job and school. With touching honesty, she brings her characters to life in this poignant story of love and choice. Mesmerizing.-Barbara M. Moon, Suffolk Cooperative Library System, Bellport, NY (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.