Awards & Reviews:
Booklist, September 15, 2005, p. 55 (Starred Review)
Lynch has hit a homerun with this provocative, important read about Keir, a self-proclaimed "good guy" headed for college on a football scholarship. With two sisters in college, Keir lives alone with his lonely, widowed father, who treats Keir more like a buddy than a son. After Keir accidentally cripples an opponent during a football game, things really go awry, especially since his victim lets him off the hook with a letter of forgiveness. With his name cleared, his peers christen him "Killer," a nickname that seems to give him license to do all sorts of unsavory things, such as hazing classmates, vandalizing a statue, trying cocaine and ultimately, date raping Gigi Boudakian. The underage drinking and recreational drug use is handled fairly cavalierly up until the stint with cocaine, but readers will still feel uneasy as the well-crafted sequence of Keir's reckless behaviors crescendos toward a disastrous end. Keir's self-delusion, irresponsibility and sense of invincibility are dangerous, sending the important message to all teens, particularly high-school heroes and their would-be victims, that some things are inexcusable. (Fiction. YA)
High school senior Keir Sarafian may remind Lynch fans of Earl Pryor, the narrator of Who the Man. Though more intelligent than Earl, Keir is also an unreliable narrator, whose reporting belies to readers the unintended results of his ungainly strength and impulsive actions. As the novel opens, something horrible has happened: "The way it looks is not the way it is. Gigi Boudakian is screaming at me so fearsomely." Intervening chapters in flashback trace how Keir and Gigi, who were childhood friends, arrived at this moment, which readers soon gather is a date rape from Gigi's perspective, and a natural progression of shared intimacy from Keir's viewpoint. Lynch plunges readers into Keir's psyche in a way that makes him almost sympathetic, if frightening. On the football field earlier in the school year, Keir tackled a receiver and crippled him, but in his mind, he was only doing what he was trained to do (the opponents "were getting too comfortable. Too lazy, spoiled, entitled.... It is inexcusable"). Later in the novel, when he learns that his older sisters (he "talks about [them]... like [they were] angels") simply boycotted his graduation (not absent due to exams, as they had said), his world crumbles. With his portrait of Keir, Lynch makes it nearly impossible for readers to see the world in black-and-white terms. This book is guaranteed to prompt heated discussion. Ages 13-up. (Nov.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Gr 9 Up-Keir is a senior who fancies himself a "lovable rogue." So do his widowed father, his older sisters, and his classmates. He likes being liked; he just doesn't do well with involvement. Keir would never do anything to hurt anyone intentionally-or would he? When he tackles and cripples a member of an opposing football team, it's determined to be an "accident"-one that earns him the good-humored nickname, "Killer." When he and his buddies destroy a town statue, they consider it a high-spirited, funny prank. When he gets drunk, the alcohol abuse is dismissed as "silly, harmless drinks," and drugs at parties are "strictly recreational." And when he date rapes the girl he thinks he loves, at first he convinces himself that "the way it looks is not the way it is." Keir's first-person narrative chillingly exposes the rationalization process that the troubled teen goes through to persuade himself and those around him of his innocence. Characters are clearly developed through immediately post-rape chapters that alternate with flashbacks of Keir's experiences and perceptions leading up to that point. As compelling as Laurie Halse Anderson's Speak (Farrar, 1999), though with a different point of view, this finely crafted and thought-provoking page-turner carefully conveys that it is simply inexcusable to whitewash wrongs, and that those responsible should (and hopefully will) pay the price.-Diane P. Tuccillo, City of Mesa Library, AZ Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Discussion Questions and Ideas:
Interviews with the Author
Bloomsbury Author Information: Chris Lynch - http://www.bloomsbury.com/childrens/microsite.asp?id=353§ion=3
Teens Health: Date Rape - http://www.kidshealth.org/teen/your_mind/problems/date_rape.html
Teen Drug Abuse
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