Kelly Loy Gilbert's Conviction reminds me of the Alfred
Hitchcock films of my youth. There is plenty of suspense. It is,
however, the kind that comes from the revelation of the darkness in
the human psyche rather than from overuse of gross special effects.
Reading it is sort of like peeling an onion. Every time you think you
have your bearings a deeper layer is revealed.
Protagonist Braden is a gifted baseball player, a pitcher who
can throw the ball 94 miles-per-hour. The game is a bond he shares
with his former player, now radio evangelist father. Doing well in it
is also a way he can try to live up to his dad's high expectations.
One very foggy night police surround the car he and his father
are in. They handcuff his dad and take him away. When Braden arrives
at the police station he is told that his father is in jail, charged
with killing a police officer.
The next day a social worker arrives at Braden's house, telling
him that unless he has a relative who will take over his supervisiob
he will be put in the state's custody. His long estranged brother,
Trey, comes back home. Braden has no idea how to relate to him as
they live under the same roof for the first time in nearly a decade.
He can't understand why Trey doesn't seem to care about their father
and his plight.
Braden dreads having to testify in court. He dreads the ball
game in which he'll face the nephew of the dead man even more.
Conviction is one of those finely crafted novels that is making
YA books one of the most popular genres for adult adults. Whether
you're a high school student, the grandparent of a high school
student, or anywhere in between, it's a mighty fine read.
On a personal note, Orono High School did a wonderful job putting on a
comedy, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. It was a truly
fine ensemble production.
A great big shout out goes out to the cast and crew and the adults who
helped them really bring the play to life.
Julia Emily Hathaway
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