Thursday, January 24, 2008
Right Behind You
Giles, Gail. 2007. RIGHT BEHIND YOU. Boston: Little, Brown. ISBN 9780316166362 [Suggested Grade Levels 8-12]
In an angry moment, nine-year-old Kip McFarland sets Bobby Clarke on fire causing Bobby’s death. For the next few years, Kip lives in a state mental ward for dangerous juvenile offenders. When released, Kip assumes a new identity, Wade Madison, and moves with his father and new stepmother from Alaska to Indiana. For a few years, Wade manages his guilt, but after drinking with friends, he shares his past. The community cannot accept him, and the family moves again to Texas. Filled with remorse, he finally admits his history to new girlfriend, Sam, who also shares a shameful story. Only then does Wade feel he can forgive himself.
In this quick read, Gail Giles creates a multi-layered character torn with guilt, remorse, and torment. Wade’s journey of self-discovery is believable, moving, and emotion-filled.
Use the book to spark a discussion on keeping secrets. If working in a situation where religious discussion is allowed, use the book to talk about forgiveness—forgiving self, forgiving others, receiving forgiveness.
Other YA novels about characters in difficult situations:
Anderson, Laurie Halse. TWISTED. ISBN 9780670061013
Cameron, Peter. SOMEDAY THIS PAIN WILL BE USEFUL TO YOU. ISBN 0374309892
By Donna Woody