A shocking crime leads to an unlikely friendship

TITLE = BURNING BLUE

AUTHOR = PAUL GRIFFIN

GENRE = FAMILIES, RESILIENCE, FRIENDSHIP

INTEREST LEVEL = YEARS 11 – 12

This is a compelling novel: part family-drama, part mystery and crime thriller. When popular student and part-time model, Nicole Castor, has acid thrown at her face, it sets in motion an unexpected response from school refuser, Jay Nazarro. The two teens are first thrown together accidently when they meet in the waiting room of the school counsellor. Both are negotiating a return to school, both are uncertain about the reception they will receive but in other ways they seem opposites and certainly come from different worlds, financially speaking. Nicole has experienced the heartbreak of her parents’ divorce, Jay has experienced parental loss of his own and now lives with his father. Yet Nicole appears to get along well with both her parents, whilst Jay’s relationship with his dad is somewhat strained.

As the novel unfolds we learn more about the reasons for this distance and the associated incident that caused Jay to complete home schooling for so long. Home schooling has allowed Jay to learn hacking skills that may put him on the wrong side of the law but may also be invaluable in finding the person who has attacked Nicole so savagely. For after their first meeting, Jay is drawn to Nicole – partly out of a desire to seek justice on her behalf – but the more he gets to know her, the more he learns about her inner strength, her inner beauty – and this is what drives him on, at greater risk to himself.

The cleverness of this novel is that although there is a central crime at the core of the story, when the perpetrator is revealed, the true horror of the situation is also revealed and yet, as anyone who reads a daily newspaper will know the events are all too realistic. Paul Griffin creates a world where we care about the characters and what happens to them and where we will ponder the story long after the last page is read.

Highly Recommended (dma) *****

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I am a teacher-librarian in a government school. I love reading and talking about books ... to anyone who will listen!

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