cover image The Drowning of Stephan Jones

The Drowning of Stephan Jones

Bette Greene. Delacorte Press Books for Young Readers, $16 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-553-07437-6

As in her first novel, The Summer of My German Soldier , Greene tackles the subject of prejudice in a small Southern town as she explores the sentiments of a social outcast who dares to stand up for her beliefs. This book, however, is set in present times and features an older heroine, 16-year-old Carla Wayland. The daughter of a liberal-minded librarian, Carla is disturbed when her all-American boyfriend begins harassing two homosexual men who have recently moved to her community. Blinded by love and fearful of losing Andy's respect, Carla hides her compassion for the victims until Andy's bigotry leads to murder. It is only during the aftermath of tragedy that Carla finds the strength to speak her mind and fight for justice. Besides tracing Carla's moral awakening, this novel brings up a number of social issues, including religious hypocrisy, censorship, gay rights and flaws in the judicial system. Whether or not readers find political statements intrusive, all will be affected by the book's dramatic and graphic portrayal of persecution. The final chapters, in particular, will force young adults to examine their values and rethink the meaning of democracy. Ages 12-up. (Nov.)