In the Night, on Lanvale Street

Jane Conly Lesley, Author, Jane Leslie Conly, Author Henry Holt & Company $16.95 (256p) ISBN 978-0-8050-7464-2
Conly (While No One Was Watching) paints a realistic picture of a Baltimore neighborhood, its sense of community, and how it starts to unravel due to drug gangs. However, the author juggles a few too many themes to develop them all fully. The strength of the novel is the relationship between 13-year-old Charlene (\x93Charlie\x94), who narrates, and her seven-year-old brother, Jerry. As the book opens, Mr. Healy, a favorite neighbor who ran a boarding house, has been murdered, and one of the boarders, a strange gent they call \x93the raincoat man,\x94 begins talking with Charlie and Jerry about solving the crime. Complications arise, as Charlie\x92s best friend, Shannon, confides that her brother may know something of the circumstances surrounding Mr. Healy\x92s death; Shannon, an atheist, starts a relationship with a devout teen; and backstories of kids in the gang, plus a neglected parakeet and child all figure into the plot. Shannon\x92s family decides to move to Chicago, in order to protect her brother, and as if that weren\x92t enough tragedy for Charlie, the horrific ending almost seems gratuitous (and makes this better suited to older readers). What will keep the pages turning is Charlie\x92s touching bond with Jerry and her well-drawn parents. Ages 12-up. (May)
Reviewed on: 05/02/2005
Release date: 05/01/2005
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