cover image Stone Water

Stone Water

Barbara Snow Gilbert / Author, Handprint / Author Boyds Mills

After suffering a massive stroke, Grandpa Hughes, lying unconscious in a nursing home bed, cannot communicate his wishes to his family, but Grant, who understands the bull-headed rancher better than anyone, is sure that his grandfather is ready to die. Unfortunately, no one puts much stock in the 14-year-old's opinions, so, when Grandpa Hughes is put on life support, Grant takes matters into his own hands. Readers, who for several chapters have followed the protagonist's moral dilemmas and stalemated arguments with his attorney father, may not be shocked by Grant's decision to ""play God""; those who doubt the teen's judgment will be reassured by Grandpa Hughes's last-minute awakening, when he urges his grandson to help him die. Acknowledging the controversial nature of her subject, Gilbert states in an author's note that her purpose is not to ""take a stand on the issue of assisted suicide"" but rather ""to tell a story."" Still, her political views are only thinly veiled in this emotionally charged first novel; the author's personal vision of the meaning of life, death and love adds power and heft to her narrative. Ages 10-up. (Nov.)