Going Under

Kathe Koja, Author . FSG/Foster $16 (120p) ISBN 978-0-374-30393-8

Koja's (The Blue Mirror ) novel explores the complex relationship between a teenage brother and sister, through their alternating first-person narratives. Hilly's friend recently committed suicide, and Hilly continues to be haunted by it, so her parents take her to a psychiatrist. Hilly's older brother, Ivan, believes that all Hilly really needs to do is to write about the event. As a stall tactic, he convinces their parents to switch Hilly to another psychiatrist with a long waiting list—who specializes in adolescent girls and coauthored a book called Persephone's Crisis: Adolescence and Separation . But Dr. Roland takes on Hilly right away; she (and, likely, readers) sees through the narcissistic doctor immediately, but Ivan does not. The man starts to play the two siblings against each other; again, Hilly is onto him, but Ivan begins to distrust his sister. The Persephone myth looms large, as Hilly flashes back to an experience in a cave (in a theme that is never fully flushed out), and hides under a tarp outside to write in a secret journal. Unfortunately, the nature of Hilly and Ivan's relationship remains muddied. Yet Koja crafts some striking moments in connecting the two siblings' chapters ("I don't mind lying, but I hate inaccuracy," Ivan admires from Roland's book; later, Hilly observes about her doctor, "Maybe telling the truth was like lying, for him"), and Hilly grows through the course of the book, emerging from her hell as the healthiest of everyone in her confused family. Ages 14-up. (Oct.)

Reviewed on: 11/06/2006
Release date: 09/01/2006
Genre: Children's
Paperback - 128 pages - 978-0-374-32682-1
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