The One Left Behind

Willo Davis Roberts, Author Atheneum Books $16.95 (139p) ISBN 978-0-689-85075-2
The late Roberts's final book does not seem up to her previous high standards, yet it is a pageturner nonetheless. Eleven-year-old Mandy, part of a large and busy family, is invited by her various older siblings to come along with each of them and their friends for Labor Day weekend (her parents are away celebrating their anniversary). But not having committed to any of them, she finds that everyone has dispersed and inadvertently left without her. For Mandy, this is an opportunity to make herself take some risks on her own, the kind that Angel, her twin sister who died the year before, was always the first to take. The first third of the book progresses rather slowly, absent of the author's usual dialogue, but when Mandy finds two young runaways in the woods, the pace picks up. Mandy must decide whom she can trust, and how best to keep them all safe from would-be kidnappers and possible killers. Roberts successfully portrays Mandy's grief for her lost twin and her alarm as a suspicion takes hold that someone else has been in the house. Even though the denouement may feel anticlimactic and somewhat contrived, the heroine's wavering about what to do with the two boys is genuine, and in the end, she is able to act decisively when necessary. Ages 8-12.
Reviewed on: 03/20/2006
Release date: 03/01/2006
Hardcover - 978-1-4178-3209-5
Paperback - 139 pages - 978-0-689-85083-7
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