Sunday, January 22, 2006

Trick of the Mind

Waite, Judy. 2005. TRICK OF THE MIND. New York: Atheneum. ISBN 0689870140 [Suggested Grade Levels 8-11]

Told from the alternating voices of Matt and Erin, TRICK OF THE MIND is a realistic novel of betrayal, love, and murder for teens. Matt and Erin are two storytellers, each with his or her own personal problems. Because these two characters are outsiders among their own peers, their accidental friendship fulfills a need for each. Erin quickly desires to be much more than friends with Matt and uses her talents with card tricks as a means to continue the relationship. Matt, although accepting the card trick lessons and Erin’s attention, has plans to use the tricks to impress another girl and gain her attention. Matt’s attention toward Erin gives her false hope and Matt is aware of this but continues to use Erin for his own purposes. Through a series of mistaken messages, Matt’s life takes a serious turn and he is accused of murder and jailed. Erin has the potential to help Matt, but now feels betrayed. Once realizing this, Erin sets out to change Matt’s fate: “And once Matt understands what made everything get so tangled up and twisted, I’m sure we can start again.”

Reading the same story from two alternating perspectives works magnificently in this novel with a different typeface for each speaker. Each character rationalizes his/her individual actions and selfishness. Matt and Erin’s inability to deal with family issues only adds to the drama. Well developed characters and an open-ended finale, makes this book a winner.

Because the ending is so open-ended, readers can discuss different possible plot scenarios and defend their ideas using textual evidence and knowledge of characters. It would also be interesting to set up a debate based on differing points of view regarding the ending.

Other books by Judy Waite:
FORBIDDEN. ISBN 0192753126

By Pamela Kemp

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