cover image Zero at the Bone

Zero at the Bone

Michael Cadnum, Author Viking Children's Books $15.99 (224p) ISBN 978-0-670-86725-7

After spending seven chapters articulating the conflicts and relationships of high-school senior Cray Buchanan, Cadman (Taking It; Breaking the Fall) zaps readers with a sudden crisis: the inexplicable disappearance of Cray's older sister, Anita. Tension mounts rapidly as the protagonist, along with his parents and the police, traces frustratingly vague clues taken from fragments of conversations and excerpts from Anita's diary. As this riveting novel progresses, the tragedy unravels the fabric of family life. The personalities of characters undergo subtle changes: Mrs. Buchanan, an archeologist, puts on a stoic front, Cray's father, a factory owner, becomes somewhat fanatic in his behavior and Cray begins to be more open and honest about his feelings. Although the mystery remains unsolved, as in Susan Beth Pfeffer's The Year Without Michael, the final scene, set at the family's lakeside cabin, affords a type of closure. Fans of intense psychological dramas can expect to be emotionally drained by the time they reach the last chapter. Ages 12-up. (Aug.)