Monday, March 15, 2010

One of the Survivors by Susan Shaw

How do you feel when you are blamed for something that is not your fault? What if you can't prove your innocence? What if people were hurt? What if a classroom of your fellow students and your teacher were killed in a fire and you can't explain why you left just in time?

In One of the Survivors, Joey Campbell and his friend Maureen leave their classroom against the orders of their teacher, Mr. Bednarik. The alarms have been going off for a while and everyone assumes there is no real danger. Except that Joey has had experience with fire and he goes against his strong desire to follow the rules, which proves to save their lives.

Now, at the insistence of his father, Joey is writing in a journal. He recounts the horrifying dreams, the fence they built to keep out the angry townsfolk who can't understand how he could have survived while others died and how Maureen is changing as well. It is a dark period where even his own back yard is unsafe, due to the garbage-throwing mobs.

Joey writes about a lot of things though, like his cat Preston and vanilla ice cream. As is her previous novel, Safe, Shaw deals with tragedy with a subtle understanding. The story and Joey's healing are slowly revealed during the incredibly engrossing One of the Survivors. Fans of Jacqueline Woodson's Peace, Locomotion or Zane's Trace by Allan Wolf will enjoy this novel.

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