Beth Goobie, Author
Beth Goobie, Author . Orca $16.95 (272p) ISBN 978-1-55143-238-0
Reviewed on: 10/28/2002
Release date: 10/01/2002

Canadian author Goobie (Before Wings) takes Shirley Jackson's classic short story "The Lottery" and transposes it to a YA problem novel; the results are intriguing in spots, but the happy ending lacks the original's impact. While the principal and teachers look the other way, the Shadow Council (aka "S.C.") rules Sally Hanson's high school, targeting other students for exceptionally cruel pranks. Every year, S.C. holds a lottery, and the "winner," delegated as S.C.'s messenger to fresh victims, will be wholly shunned by the student body. The dreaded role falls to Sally, and the attendant trauma and confusion compound Sally's mysterious problems (toward the end of the novel, readers learn that she was in the car with her alcoholic father when he fatally crashed seven years earlier and that she has felt responsible for his death). Playing pivotal parts in this dense drama are Sal's older brother who, along with his best friend, has a dark past history with S.C. (this, too, emerges at the end); a double-amputee fellow clarinetist in the school band; a mysterious classmate who turns out to be autistic; and the chameleon-like S.C. president, who plays first trumpet in the band and asks Sal to help him perform the duet he has composed. Though burdened by heavy-handed symbolism and extraneous detail, the novel raises potentially provocative questions about free choice, self-knowledge and guilt. Ages 12-up. (Oct.)

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