Monday, October 15, 2012


By Karen Hesse
Feiwel and Friends, 2012. 294 pgs. Young Adult

Radley is in Haiti helping at an orphanage when she gets word that the U.S. has pretty much gone crazy. The president has been assassinated and anyone who opposes the American People's Party has been imprisoned. Radley heads back to the U.S. and finds, as her plane lands in New Hampshire, that she doesn't have the proper clearance to travel to her home in Vermont. She sets out on foot and walks home, only to find that her parents are gone and she has no way to find them. With the unrest in the country, and knowing that her parents were among those who opposed the American People's Party, she suspects they have been arrested, a suspicion that is confirmed when the police start stopping by her house. She manages to evade them and decides to head to Canada, once more on foot, since she can't get any sort of authorization to go legally. Along the way, she becomes adept at finding food in dumpsters and hiding from everyone. Along the way, though, she ends up meeting Celia, another girl looking for escape, and the two of them journey to Canada and try to find safety.

This book is much less about the problems of a corrupt government, which is what anticipated based on the book jacket's description, than it is about survival and friendship. Hesse never fully explains why the government has reached the point that it's at, so readers looking for that type of story will be disappointed. However, she does show what it's like to be displaced, homeless, and scared in the aftermath of a government breakdown, as well as the determination to survive and hope for a better future, which will be appreciated by thoughtful readers who are more interested in character development than plot.


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