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DROWNING ANNA

Sue Mayfield, Author
Sue Mayfield, Author . Hyperion $15.99 (320p) ISBN 978-0-7868-0870-0
Reviewed on: 10/07/2002
Release date: 10/01/2002
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Opening with the attempted suicide of 15-year-old Anna Goldsmith, Mayfield's (I Carried You on Eagles' Wings) intense novel unspools at a breakneck pace. Succeeding chapters alternate between the first-person narrative of Anna's only remaining friend, Melanie, entries from Anna's diary (which Anna is clutching when her mother discovers the girl unconscious) and third-person viewpoints of Anna's mother and father at the hospital as they wait for their daughter to come out of a coma. Melanie's perspective and Anna's entries dovetail as they recount the escalating cruelty of their classmate Hayley Parkin. Hayley at first befriends smart, attractive Anna, who is new to the school, then turns against her. The author wisely leaves the cause for the rift a mystery, choosing instead to examine Hayley's subtle machinations: a trip here, an insult there, always out of sight of the teachers. Readers witness the dwindling of Anna's self-esteem (a few graphic scenes describe Anna cutting herself), the tenuous friendship forming between Anna and Melanie, and the insidious ways that Hayley buddies up to Melanie to undermine Melanie's loyalty to Anna. Structurally, the shifting viewpoints detract from the drama; Adele Griffin's recent Amandine does a more effective job of portraying the psychological claustrophobia that results from adolescent power plays. Nonetheless, Mayfield's drama will keep the pages turning. Ages 10-14. (Oct.)

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