cover image Hothouse


Chris Lynch, HarperTeen, $16.99 (208p) ISBN 978-0-06-167379-5

Lynch (Inexcusable) again expertly explores the gap between public perception and reality. When Russell's firefighter father dies (along with the father of his childhood friend and neighbor, DJ), the entire town treats the two grieving teenagers as heroes themselves. As Russell deals with adulation that he knows he hasn't earned, the boys learn that there's an investigation into the deaths of their fathers, and that the men may have been at fault. Lynch focuses on Russell's reactions to his own grief, as well as that of his family and DJ, and the gamut of emotions run by their friends, family, and even total strangers. Russell's reactions to everything from the cute girl at his Young Firefighters class who might be interested in him, to the bullying son of a disgraced cop who gleefully taunts him about his father's death drive the majority of the story. Lynch doesn't shy away from unresolved questions and subtle character development, and in the end, questions of heroism and perception take second stage to a nuanced exploration of teenage grief and catharsis. Ages 12–up. (Sept.)