Monday, May 7, 2012

Review of Dark Song by Gail Giles

Little Brown Books
for Young Readers
Dark Song
By Gail Giles
4 Scribbles
Ames lives the fairy tale. Attentive, loving father who provides for the family. Mother who gives Martha Stewart a run for her domestic crown. Cute and cuddly baby sister. Quirky and loyal best friend. Mansion, exotic vacations, private school, cash flow—it is good to be Ames. That is until the bottom falls out. Ames’ dad barely avoids jail time for committing a white-collar crime, her mother turns into a shrew, her sister is afraid to sleep alone at night, and the family loses their house. Ames is not just angry to find out her parents aren’t the perfect people they pretended to be, she’s furious. What kind of parent violates the trust of their child like this? When the family is forced to move to a slum in Texas, Ames saves no time looking for someone to replace the parents she once loved, and she doesn’t really care who gets burned in the process. Most readers will identify with Ames because she is angry with her parents for their dishonesty and deception, who wouldn’t be? She is forced to face reality too soon—and in such a devastating way. However, what might be harder for readers to understand is Ames’ constant rich-girl whining…she’s almost comically sheltered from the real world; and yet, the reader will still stay firmly in Ames’s corner. True, Ames’s parents do take out their anger on Ames often in the story, but Ames is unable to see her part in the cycle of cruelty. Instead, she fights back by starting a relationship with a potentially dangerous 22-year-old, Marc, down the street. What she doesn’t realize is that this guy burns hot, and Ames is likely to get scorched. In trademark Giles’ style, the novel moves at a startling pace, with an introduction that teases the reader on, and short chapters that read like a roller coaster ride. Fans of Giles won’t be disappointed in this truly fractured fairy tale.

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