cover image Gone


Kathleen Jeffrie Johnson, . . Roaring Brook/Brodie, $16.95 (170pp) ISBN 978-1-59643-138-6

In addition to the scintillating premise of a teacher-student affair, this is a raw novel about a 17-year-old's search for a home. Readers will find it easy to sympathize with Connor, a recent high school graduate who lives with his aunt (his parents are both alcoholics; he is estranged from his mother, and his father is in a nursing home after an alcohol-related accident). Readers will also find it easy to see why the teen falls for his former history teacher, beautiful Ms. Corinna Timms, who had noticed the usually "invisible" Connor ("It terrified him. It made his blood sing"). Though it is not immediately clear what she sees in him, they begin a relationship, which quickly becomes intense. Connor soon decides that he should follow her after she moves from Maryland to New Mexico. Johnson (The Parallel Universe of Liars ) imagines a well-drawn backdrop to this story, both in the steamy summer setting, and in the colorful, full-bodied characters, ranging from Connor's hippie aunt to Zach, his nerdy best friend, who also falls in love that summer. Some plot points, such as the painful reason behind Connor's tension with his mother, or Corinna's own revelations about her dark past, come late in the book and seem tacked on. But in the end, warm scenes of Aunt Syl's birthday crab feed—or even Connor's father's well-attended funeral—will let readers understand where Connor's true "home" is long before he does. Ages 14-up. (Mar.)