cover image Paper Trail

Paper Trail

Barbara Snow Gilbert, Author, Handprint, Author Boyds Mills Press $16.95 (168p) ISBN 978-1-886910-44-7

Gilbert (Stone Water; Broken Chords) stresses the destructive forces of paramilitary groups in this chilling survival tale of a boy playing a game of cat and mouse within an antigovernment camp. In the heart-stopping opening scene, the 15-year-old protagonist (who remains nameless until the end of the novel) witnesses the murders of first his pet dog and then his mother. As the boy fades in and out of consciousness in his hiding place inside a hollow log, the narrative takes a surreal turn, mixing in hallucinations and fragments of boyhood memories, alternating with excerpts from newspapers documenting real-life paramilitary groups. Through a flashback, readers discover that the protagonist has recently learned that his parents are not what they seem. Far from being a devout follower of the Reverend General--leader of the ""Soldiers of God""--his father is an FBI agent working undercover, presumably with his mother's full knowledge. But even before the boy has had a chance to sort out his confusion, his whole family is under attack, and readers never get a sense of the boy's own allegiances. Those anxiously waiting to learn the boy's fate will be jolted by the shocking turn of events after he finally awakens. This complex montage of images and dialogue may well prompt discussions about truth and deception, but readers may experience the same sense of betrayal by the author's trickery that the boy feels as a consequence of his father's lies. Ages 12-up. (May)