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Few teenagers may be aware of the legal quagmire that can await even a consensual sexual relationship, but Vaught's latest will open their eyes. Del has been living as a convicted felon and sex offender since he was 14, after having been caught sexting with his 13-year-old girlfriend. Now 17, Del's life has a narrow focus: he keeps to himself at school, he digs graves (the only job he could get), he futilely applies to colleges, he visits his therapist and his parole officer, and he tries not to dream of a future he'll never have. His checked-out, head-down approach to life is challenged when he falls for Livia and slowly starts to see new possibilities in his limited options. Scenes of Del's arrest and prosecution read like an unbelievable nightmare, all the more so because they are based on true stories. Though message driven in its sharp criticism of juvenile sex offender laws, this is not just a cautionary tale: Vaught tells a strong story with believable characters that will resonate with a teen audience.--Hutley, Krista Copyright 2010 Booklist
School Library Journal
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Gr 9 Up-From the get-go, it is obvious that 17-year-old Del made a huge mistake in his past. He describes himself as "that guy who did awful stuff," but as his story slowly comes to light through flashbacks, readers will form their own opinions, even though in the eyes of the law Del is a sex offender. When he was 14, he was charged as a felon because of sexting and consensual relations with his girlfriend, who was only 13 at the time. Fast-forward three years and Del has no chance for a normal life. No college will take him and the only work he can find is digging graves. Chapter headings keep readers on track with the time frame, present day or three years earlier, but overall the pacing may be a bit slow for some. Vaught keeps the story from getting too dark with a new love interest, a talking pet parrot, and an interesting playlist that Del compiles for his life. This ripped-from-the-headlines story is heartrending but also hopeful when Del testifies to bring sense to the current legislation. As a cautionary tale, this novel gives teens pause to consider their actions under the law.-Patricia N. McClune, Conestoga Valley High School, Lancaster, PA (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
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The latest issue-driven novel by Vaught (Exposed) is an effective takedown of the laws that criminalize underage consensual sex. Del, a teenager who experimented with sexting when he was 14, has lived as a registered sex offender for the last three years, working a (literal) graveyard shift, laying low, and trying to find a college that will accept him. When he meets and starts to fall for Livia, his past comes back to haunt him, even as he works with his therapist to overturn the laws that made him a felon. His burgeoning relationship with Livia is complicated by both Del's actions and her own past, as well as their respective families and a girl named Cherie, who is obsessed with Del. Vaught creates her characters and situations to help her message, but gives them more than enough life to carry the story, rather than feeling like puppets (the addition of a cursing and flatulent parrot named Fred helps). Del's story-alternating between flashbacks and the present day-is tragic, frustrating, and believable, and teens should have no problem empathizing. Ages 14-up. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.