cover image The End of the Line

The End of the Line

Angela Cerrito. Holiday House, $17.95 (212p) ISBN 978-0-8234-2287-6

First-time author Cerrito delivers a tale of crime, punishment, and self-discovery driven by subtle characterizations and simmering tensions. When chronic troublemaker Robbie Thompson ends up at Great Oaks School, it%E2%80%99s because he%E2%80%99s run out of chances. Now, stripped of all luxuries, he has to earn everything from fresh clothes and a shower to decent food and real conversation. And to do that, he must examine his life, his choices, and his mistakes. Robbie%E2%80%99s story unfolds in clipped sections that alternate between his present incarceration and flashbacks that center on his difficulties in school; his close ties to his uncle Grant, who is serving in Iraq; and particularly his intense relationship with his troubled friend Ryan%E2%80%94all of which culminate in a murder that still haunts him. Cerrito touches on themes of poverty, child abuse, and the psychology of violence, but refrains from drawing concrete conclusions%E2%80%94a narrative choice that may frustrate readers who crave definitive answers. Nevertheless, she portrays Robbie%E2%80%99s wobbly path to redemption with a persuasive blend of humor, desperation, and painful observation. Ages 12%E2%80%93up. (Apr.)