Parents' Choice Foundation: Reviewing Children's Media Since 1978

All Unquiet Things

All Unquiet Things

Spring 2010 Fiction
Ages: 14 & Up
Author: Anna Jarzab
ISBN: 9780385738354
Hardcover Price: $17.99

Popular prep school junior Carly Ribelli is dead and though there's a man behind bars for her murder, the students of Brighton Day School are still unsettled. Something doesn't seem right.

Anna Jarzab's first novel is well-paced and intricately woven. It's told from the alternating points of view of Carly's ex-boyfriend Neily, who discovered her body, and her cousin Audrey whose father is in jail for the crime. The story begins at the start of senior year, one year after the murder. Audrey has been away and Neily has barely slept. The narrative shifts back and forth between the present and three years earlier, when Carly and Neily first met and Audrey had just moved back to the wealthy enclave of Empire Falls.

This is a page-turning mystery, but it's no stock detective story. Jarzab is in tune with the finer nuances of high school years - identity crises, first loves, and the complex navigation of social sets. While the overriding plot is to find Carly's real killer, the strength of the novel comes from Jarzab's exploration of the teen psyche. The protagonists do not just solve a murder, they learn something about themselves, about Carly, and about their peers. Watching the characters reflect and grow is compelling, and that the murder story is laced with so many interesting turns and twists is a bonus.

Warning: These are teens with money and little supervision and they behave in kind. There is under-age drinking and drug use and sex (including a rape) that make this book most suited for mature readers.

Teresa DiFalco   ©2010 Parents' Choice
Teresa DiFalco is an award-winning ghostwriter, writer, and mother in Vancouver, Washington. She's been a contributing editor for Parents' Choice for over ten years. She's a strong speller, a menace at badminton, and makes a decent soufflé.

Look for this product at:
Random House Children's Books/Delacorte Press

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