Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Review: Freefall

Ariela Anhalt
2010; Harcourt; ISBN 978-0-15-206567-6 (hardcover)

Summary: What happened that night on the cliff? What did Luke see? Whether his best friend Hayden just shoved Russell, or whether Hayden meant to kill Russell, Luke's not sure. He'll have to find some kind of answer by the time of the trial, but until then, Luke is a real mess. He screws up with the girl he likes, pushes away his friends, and has a horrible fight with his mom. Russell's death dredges up all of Luke's feeling about his father's suicide. Can Luke forgive his father--and will that let him forgive Hayden?

An intriguing look at the line between accident and crime, Freefall is a debut novel that focuses on friendship and self. Luke is a hard character to like, caught between passivity and self-loathing, brooding and anger. Yet his struggles to resolve his questions ring true for a teen in such a situation. Suddenly adrift when Hayden's influence is removed, Luke slowly and haltingly learns to stand on his own two feet, making his own choices instead of following Hayden's lead. Freefall could be paired with Jennifer Brown's Hate List, showing two different sides of bystander responsibility.

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