Sunday, October 21, 2012

The Edge of Nowhere - Book Review

A few weeks ago, Viking Children's Books sent me a copy of the new young adult novel The Edge of Nowhere by Elizabeth George. (It came out in hardcover September 4.) Because my company doesn't cover young adult novels, I decided to read the book on my own and review it here. I also wanted to see what it was about and if it would be appropriate for the middle school book club my husband and I run every summer.

In The Edge of Nowhere, we meet Becca King. Except, her name isn't really Becca King. Becca and her mother had to change their names and go on the run because they knew some disturbing details about Becca's stepfather. Details that could put Becca and her mother in danger.

You see, Becca can hear people's thoughts, and she heard a terrible thought coming from her stepfather. So Becca and her mother, Laurel, leave California and make their way to Washington. Laurel sends Becca to stay with a family friend on Whidbey Island while Laurel goes to Canada and tries to find a job and get settled. Once that happens, Laurel will come back for Becca.

But the plan hits a snag, and soon Becca finds herself alone and depending on the kindness of strangers. She meets Seth, a high school drop-out who is a talented guitarist; Hayley, Seth's ex-girlfriend who is dealing with issues at home; Debbie, a recovering alcoholic who can't get past the death of her daughter; Derric, a handsome athlete who was adopted from Africa; Jenn, who hates Becca from the first time they meet; and Diana, the one person whose thoughts Becca cannot read. Not long after Becca arrives on Whidbey Island, an accident occurs in the woods, and it seems as though everyone has something to hide.

The book is told through third-person POV, but the "main" character changes from chapter to chapter. While the first part of the book focuses exclusively on Becca, once you reach the second part, the chapters switch between Becca, Seth, and Hayley. Seth and Hayley's stories serve as sub-plots and sort of have something to do with the main plot.

The Edge of Nowhere kind of gets you thinking about jumping to conclusions and judging people based on their appearance. That sort of thing happens a lot in this book. It's also a fairly thrilling mystery story as Becca tries to figure out what really happened in the woods while also keeping her real identity a secret from her newfound friends.

The book is kind of long—400+ pages. I would love to read it for the middle school book club, but I'm not sure how well the kids will handle such a long book. It is geared toward ages 12 and up, but we usually read shorter books for the book club. Perhaps we'll have to discuss this book over two sessions. The kids can read the first half of the book for the first session and the second half for the second session. I've already come up with some discussion questions and an activity. Go me!

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