James W. Bennett, Author . Holiday $16.95 (247p) ISBN 978-0-8234-1778-0

Bennett (I Can Hear the Mourning Dove; Blue Star Rapture) once again shows insight into the teen psyche as he traces the downward spiral of a troubled adolescent. Anne-Marie, a cheerleader in danger of failing her senior year of high school, is swept off her feet by a charismatic evangelist. Almost as soon as Anne-Marie hears the passionate words of Brother Jackson, she is inspired to become a more religious person. The lines between spiritual elation and physical lust become blurred for the heroine, however, and he seduces her the first time they are alone together. Around the same time, Anne-Marie learns that her poor grades will prevent her from graduating with her class, she also discovers that she is pregnant with Brother Jackson's child. Rather than facing her problems head-on, Anne-Marie allows Jackson to drive her to Camp Shaddai, an isolated Christian retreat where Anne-Marie's desperate search to find God—and herself—soon turns deadly. Peppered with dark ironies, this tale raises provocative questions about religious conviction and religious cults, blind faith and obsessive infatuation. Readers may find themselves replaying scenes in their mind, trying to discern whether tragedies could have been prevented. Although many may grow frustrated with Anne-Marie's naïveté, most teens will be able to empathize with her deep-rooted need for unconditional love and acceptance. Ages 12-up. (June)

Reviewed on: 06/02/2003
Release date: 04/01/2003
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