Bunting (I Have an Olive Tree; Smoky Night) crafts an ethics-centered novel that will long flicker in readers' memories. Brodie's plans to go camping with his best friend on the nearby banks of the furious Blackwater River are foiled when his younger cousin, Alex, comes to spend the summer. To top it off, Alex also wrecks 13-year-old Brodie's highly anticipated plans to take his classmate and crush, Pauline, to the movies. One morning, Brodie decides to teach Alex how to swim in a protected area of the Blackwater, and the two spy Pauline cozying up to an older boy on a rock in the middle of the river. Bunting's cunning description of the tragic incident that follows leaves just enough room for readers' to interpret the events. Should Brodie be elevated to hero status, shunned as a villain, or somewhere in between? And Alex, with his proclivity for fibbing, devises a cover-up that further obscures the truth. But it soon becomes evident that someone else witnessed what happened in the Blackwater River. Smoothly shifting between dialogue and his inner thoughts, Brodie's affecting, first-person narrative makes the boy's nightmarish struggle with his conscience chillingly credible. Bunting's thought-provoking theme, solid characterization and skillful juggling of suspense and pathos make this a top-notch choice for both boys and girls. Ages 10-up. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 08/30/1999 Release date: 09/01/1999 Genre: Children's
During the Covid-19 crisis, Publishers Weekly is providing free digital access to our magazine, archive, and website. To receive the access to the latest issue delivered to your inbox free each week, enter your email below.