Jackie French Koller
Atheneum ISBN: 0-689-81294-9
Luke just can't seem to get a handle on what he should write in his journal. Keeping one isn't his idea: his English teacher has assigned journal-writing as a way to get ready for those all-important college application essays in senior year.
But neither Luke nor his English teacher can imagine the effect this assignment will have in Luke. As he begins to write about the current issues in his life -- school, wrestling, his girlfriend, parent problems -- painful memories of other times begin to emerge.
Luke's past becomes inextricably linked with his present, as his struggles to hide a long-kept secret -- even from himself -- catch him up in a spiral of ever-increasing danger.
Koller follows up A Place to Call Home (1995) with this raw, funny-if-it-weren't-so-painful journal of a disabled teenager given to self-destructive behavior... Luke is an appealing character, and readers will keep turning the pages, waiting for Koller to drop in the next piece of the puzzle that lies at the heart of Luke's anguish. A memorable case study in teenage guilt. ---Kirkus
Koller creates another stellar profile of a conflicted teen in the authentically drawn character of seventeen-year-old Luke Carver. Feeling like “the falcon” in his own published poem, Luke finds his senior English writing assignment a daunting task. The reader is quickly drawn into Luke's social life, appreciating his complex relationship with Megan and identifying with the politics of the wrestling team. It is the references to Luke's risky adventures and the crossed-out lines in his personal diary that begin to reveal the mystery surrounding his disability. Visual imagery triggers a mood of sadness in this brooding character, and flashbacks of Luke's hospital experiences provide more clues to link his past with the secrecy of his behavior. Strong themes of responsibility, privacy and invincibility are vividly presented through a teen perspective as are the bonds of friendship and prejudicial ideas about psychology and homosexuality. This engrossing narrative will touch all of its readers; my favorite exchanges took place between Luke and his Father, where they discuss the difference between conscious choices and consequences. The narrative comes full circle, along with Luke, and concludes with a hopeful look to the future. This is an excellent choice for high interest/low reading level lists because of its mastery of troubled adolescence in a truthful voice. ---Nancy Zachary. VOYA 5Q5P