Shadow Man

Cynthia D. Grant, Author
Cynthia D. Grant, Author Atheneum Books $13.95 (149p) ISBN 978-0-689-31772-9
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Grant spins a Rashomon-like story with a drunk-driving fatality at its core. Chapters are narrated by diverse inhabitants of a seacoast California town where popular Gabriel, 18, is found dead one night: after he left a party alone and inebriated, he crashed his truck into a tree. Jennie Harding, Gabriel's girlfriend, resented his alcoholism and infidelity, but adored him. Only Gabriel knew she is five months pregnant and that they had quarreled two nights earlier. On the morning Jennie learns of his death, she runs to their secret beachfront spot, contemplating suicide. Reading their daughter's diary for clues to her whereabouts, the Hardings learn of her condition and take steps that ultimately save her life. Grant's dark novel, while affecting, becomes melodramatic: Jennie's attempted martyrdom is extreme, while Gabriel's father Frank, who battered his wife and sons, seems an unlikely hero. Yet the cautionary tale may inspire readers' reflections on life, death and the need to act intelligently. Ages 12-up. (Oct.)
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