cover image Out of Control

Out of Control

Norma Fox Mazer. HarperCollins Publishers, $16 (217pp) ISBN 978-0-688-10208-1

An incident of sexual harassment occurring in a high school corridor dramatically alters the lives of two of the students involved. Of the three youths accused of assaulting sharp-tongued Valerie Michon, only Rollo, a junior, experiences twinges of guilt which evolve into a desperate need to be forgiven by his family as well as his victim. Meanwhile, bitter, fearful Valerie struggles to regain her independence and trust in men. Readers are sure to recognize some of the novel's characters: macho ``Candy,'' who claims his attack was nothing more than horseplay; and his smaller-than-average buddy, Brig, who longs to be a bigshot. Other prime players include an assortment of teenaged girls who also have experienced various forms of harassment, and the school administrators, whose chief concern is ducking any publicity surrounding the assault. Although the story begins somewhat slowly, the pace quickly increases as events build to a predictable yet gripping climax. In her frank scenario Mazer ( After the Rain ; Taking Terri Mueller ), skillfully avoids sensationalizing either the action or issues; rather, she paints a powerful portrait of loss of control and victimization. Her thought-provoking book underscores the responsibility of victims-- and society in general--to take action against injustice. Ages 12-up. (Apr.)