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Summary: Kyle is an aspiring director with a blank spot in his memory. One morning, when he and his best friend Jason are in the shed, Jason is shot and dies. Everyone wants to know what happened. In trying to figure that out, Kyle rewrites the story using the production styles of his favorite directors. But they all come out the same: Jason dies in his shed, and he can't answer the question that haunts him: did he kill his best friend on purpose? Worst of all, Kyle isn't ready to close the door on Jason's memory ... but other doors keep popping up for him to open.
This is a young adult novel/mystery with themes of self-discovery. It has potential as a high interest/low readability title.
Type of Reading: family reading, anytime reading, independent reading, read aloud book
Recommended Age: read together: 10 and up; read yourself: 11 and up
Interest Level: 12 and up
Age of Child: Reviewed by a student at the Renaissance School (Charlottesville, VA) as part of a senior community service project. The review is part our Use Your ABCs initiative.
Young Reader Reaction: The creativity behind the writing is phenomenal. Heidi Ayarbe takes a story and puts it into the perspective of a director, but still manages to keep the storyline clear. Sadly, the storyline is very heartbreaking, and it’s hard to read through the psychological stress the main character faces. This is a book I want to read again. I’m very interested in psychology and film. These two aspects put together into a book was very intriguing.
Adult Reader Reaction: The story was much, much more than I expected. This is mostly Kyle's story, but the author does an exceptional job showing how Jason's death affected others, from his siblings and parents to his peers at school. Kyle's relationship with Mr. Cordoba the librarian is touching and demonstrates how the right adult can reach a teen when they listen. Mr. Cordoba puts the "professional" counselor to shame.
Pros: The first chapter is very explosive. Although the story is told in distortion, and yet still tragic, I was motivated to keep reading. It kept my attention.
Cons: I felt like the issue was dealt with in small chunks, even though it's a very big issue. The reading level is meant for a child that probably might have trouble reading about the theme in this book.
Borrow or Buy: Borrow. Although the writing style is very interesting, the reading is quite easy. I would have this book read with a parent, in case the child is confused about the psychological elements. Though there aren’t any scary, intense scenes, the fact that Kyle is trying to recall the fact about whether he killed his friend on purpose or not is quite mature, and parental guidance for this issue might be needed. I would borrow this book first, just in case the child might have some trouble dealing with the issues in this book.
Educational Themes: There are lots of cross-curriculum opportunities with this story. It is an excellent choice for art (script writing, story telling styles), sociology (bullying / relationships), and personal growth, as well. This would be a very good book choice for book clubs and counselors.
Teen: The main lesson in this book is dealing with death, and I learned that nobody can keep on living forever. Things happens for a reason, and you must keep on living your life.
Literary Categories: Fiction - young adult, YA, mystery, psychology
Date(s) Reviewed: March 2009
Other Reviews: See Critics' Reviews and reader feedback at barnesandnoble.com and feedback at amazon.com.