Friday, November 27, 2009

Diary Of A Witness ~ By Catherine Ryan Hyde

Diary Of A Witness opens with the main character (Ernie) telling about how his friend Will stood up for him after gym class against the school jocks. Both boys are outcasts, but have formed a friendship based on that fact. Will tells Ernie he has two choices: live with gym or tell the counselor he is gay. He chooses to lie to the counselor. But his plan backfires when he must use the gym during lunch or after school. His gym teacher, who sees right through his lie, makes Ernie a deal: he is allowed to shower in Mr. Bayliss’s office but he must weigh himself. Ernie is about 100 pounds over weight. Ernie’s bullying never stops. At lunch one of the jocks hit him in the head with their tray. Will’s father lets Will, Ernie and Sam (Will’s little brother) take his boat out fishing. Will hooks a 30 inch fish and won’t let it go. Will’s stubbornness ends up sinking his father’s boat and killing his younger brother. After Sam’s death, Will becomes incredibly angry and threatens to end Ernie’s suffering forever.

This book is a new look at school shootings. It’s a reminder that anyone can snap at anytime for any reason. Ernie learns some hard lessons about choosing everyone’s safety over a friend’s freedom. Even though this isn’t something I normally read, I enjoyed it. Actually I think it should be read in schools as a reminder of Columbine and other school shootings.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Powers~ By John B. Olson

Powers opens with Mariutza walking in the forest near her home. Her teacher, Miss Caralee, yells at her for being out so late without her grandfather’s consent. As Mari is leaving Caralee’s shack, the whole forest begins to “ring with silence.” Caralee freaks out because the Badness is out in the woods. Mari escapes Caralee’s grasp and sees her grandfather’s diddlecar (gypsy wagon) and realizes the Badness has reached there too. When she can’t find Purodad anywhere, she realizes that he is out fighting the Badness. Unfortunately he does not survive and has some strange requests of his granddaughter. This is where we leave Mari’s story and read about Jazz, who we meet while he is playing piano at a bar. Jazz hears Mariutza’s name in his head, but he doesn’t know what it means. Jazz blacks out during one of his songs. When Jazz refuses medical tests, the owner of the bar gives him a choice: go to the hospital to find the cause of the “seizure” or play elsewhere. Jazz, knowing a trip to the ER would be pointless, chooses the latter. The story then flows back to Mari, who is deep in sorrow over her grandfather’s death. While burying him, the Badness comes back and so Mari is forced to hide in her grandfather’s grave. This is where Mari is left so we can reunite with Jazz. On the street, Jazz runs into the young woman who made her way toward him before he blacked out at the bar. The young woman (Hollis) and her friend Madison invite him to their hotel. Jazz blacks out again and we leave him as he discovers he is bloody and he blacks out again. Daniel Groves is an FBI member whose assignment is to rid the area of gypsies. And his first target is Mari. As the pace of the story picks up, so do the changes of the characters. Mari is looking through her ransacked home and finds her grandfather’s bible is missing. We leave her burning the gypsy wagon, (the only home she has ever known). Jazz has just woken up and realized that he is halfway across New Orleans. He goes home to find that his apartment has been ransacked. But the thieves never left and he was surrounded by hooded men. When the helicopters come back, Mari knows that she is in trouble, so she runs to the street and hitches a ride on top of a car heading into New Orleans. Jazz’s story picks up from here again. He escapes from the “shadow men” and heads up to the Ritz Carlton where Hollis and Madison have his guitar in their hotel room. Jazz is sorting through his mail with Hollis and takes an envelope out of his pocket and discovered it was his grandfather’s will. One problem: he was told his grandfather died when he was a child. Mari’s driver asked if she needs a ride somewhere. When they arrive at his apartment he kisses her. When Mari doesn’t kiss back, Jack feels used. Jazz wakes up screaming and Hollis makes him a deal. She will pay for his clothes and bus tickets to get out of town if she can be in on the action. Daniel Groves continues his search for Mariutza. Hollis convinces Jazz to go to the police department. When they arrive he has another vision and runs away hoping the cops won’t come after him. We leave him cutting up his clothes to hide the blood. Sheltered Mari is running through the city and discovers children. She gives one little boy her necklace but quickly runs away when the Badness gets near. She is digging through trash when the cops come asking for picture ID. Jazz and Mari finally meet around page 100. This is as far as I will take the summary.

When I received this book for review, the paper that came with it said this book was a sequel to Shade. I was hesitant to pick it up for this reason only. Without reading the first book a person can still enjoy Powers. I’m glad I picked it up so quickly after receiving it because I enjoyed really it. I hope that John B. Olson will continue this series because Powers has a very open ending. I will definitely be looking forward to reading other books by him.