CM . . . . Volume XIX Number 25 . . . . March 1, 2013
Sixteen-year-old Amy wakes up in a windowless room she doesn't recognize, and with no clue as to how she got there. The last thing she can recall is being at a party where she was befriended by a girl named Shawna. A letter left in the room informs Amy that she has been kidnapped. If she writes one essay per day on each of the seven deadly sins, she "will be free to go back to [her] life, if [she] still wants to." Amy's kidnapper has left her paper, Sharpies, food, and toiletries. Two of the room's high walls are topped by a double row of glass bricks through which she can see daylight.
In the meantime, Amy's boyfriend Eric, who is sorry that he left her alone at the party, manages to get the phone number of Shawna, the mystery girl with whom she was dancing. But Shawna never answers his calls. Amy's mother, also concerned about her absence, has contacted the police who want to question Eric.
Amy arms herself with a metal rod and, on day two, realizes that she could scratch out the grout between the glass bricks and eventually call or signal for help. She continues to write one essay per day and, when not writing or sleeping, she climbs a rickety tower of furniture to scratch away at the grout.
The second time the police speak to Eric, they inform him that his old girlfriend, Niki, saw him hit Amy at the party and then leave with her in his father's car. Curious as to why Niki is lying, Eric pays her a visit. His 'X' threatens to get Eric into more trouble if he won't go back to dating her. Eric steals her cell phone and discovers that she has been in constant contact with Shawna and Jason, Amy's old boyfriend. There are enough texts, photos, and videos on Niki's phone to prove that, with her help, Jason has committed at least two crimes, including rape of a minor.
By day five, Amy has written essays on sloth, wrath, greed, and envy. Expecting a breakthrough with the grout, she writes one last 'three-in-one' essay.
Eric finds out where Jason lives, goes to his high-rise residence, and then follows him to Amy's prison. Moments after Amy has managed to signal for help, Jason opens the door to Amy's room and is tackled by Eric.
Sarah Harvey's Deadly is a suspenseful and fast-paced addition to Orca's hi-lo "Soundings" series. The story is narrated by both Amy and Eric through alternating chapters. While riveted by Amy's immediate predicament, this reader also wanted to find out what has happened to her sister, Beth, and why Amy is angry with their father. Much of the latter plot line is revealed through Amy's essays. The seven deadly sins may strike some as a familiar theme, and it turns out that Amy's kidnapper is neither "super bright" nor imaginative. When questioned about the essays after being caught, "Jason squirms and mutters, 'I saw it in a movie. I thought it was cool and scary.'" While Jason and Niki, "the criminal mastermind," are simply sketched, both are believably callow, self-centered, and thoughtless.
Amy is a resourceful, brave, interesting, and convincing character. She arms herself with the metal rod that she knows she'll find (supporting the float) in the toilet tank. And after piling up every box and piece of furniture at hand in order to reach the glass blocks and grout, she pushes herself to overcome her fear of heights. Amy's bravery is also apparent in her essays, each of which has an honest and unique approach to the topic at hand, as per the following excerpt from 'Wrath.'
Like Amy, Eric proves to be credibly capable and resourceful. His concern over Amy's silence the day after the party is quickly established, as is his fairly typical male teen attitude towards sex:
The book's last chapter, narrated by Amy, deals with the on-going consequences of her confinement including nightmares, weekly visits to a therapist, strange food cravings, and a sense of loneliness. On the positive side, her doctor says she'll get better, and she has developed a more tolerant view of her father.
Deadly is a captivating story that readers of both sexes will thoroughly enjoy.
Karen Rankin is a Toronto, ON, writer and teacher.
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other reproduction is prohibited without permission.
Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.