cover image Swallowing Stones

Swallowing Stones

Joyce McDonald. Delacorte Press Books for Young Readers, $15.95 (256pp) ISBN 978-0-385-32309-3

A bizarre Fourth of July accident, which leaves an innocent man dead, sets McDonald's (Comfort Creek) spiraling drama in motion, drawing together four teenagers whose lives are drastically changed by the incident. Caught in the eye of the storm are 15-year-old Jenna Ward, whose father is struck by a stray bullet, and Michael MacKenzie, the 17-year-old who unknowingly fires the fatal shot. More distanced from the action are witnesses Joe Sadowski, Michael's loyal buddy and Amy Ruggerio, a misunderstood teen with a ""loose"" reputation. The alternating points of view of Jenna and Michael reflect their psychological turmoil. Jenna's grief surfaces in anxiety attacks, usually occurring when she is around her boyfriend, the last person she spoke to before her father's death. Michael is racked with guilt, but admitting his involvement in the accident is as difficult as ""swallowing stones."" The intensity of the teens' emotions increases to a feverish pitch as the police edge closer to the truth. At a crucial moment, Amy forces Michael and Jenna to face the facts that they have tried to avoid. While the novel's sequence of events is rather farfetched, the characters' reactions are real. Readers will quickly become absorbed in this electrifying portrayal of fear and deception. Ages 12-up. (Oct.)