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Jul 9, 2010

Nostalgic Friday: The Terrorist by Caroline B. Cooney

Welcome back to Nostalgic Friday! Since I love all things historical (culturally, physically, and personally) I do a post on Fridays honoring some awesome book that is a bit older. Many of them are books I enjoyed in my teens and others are books that I discovered as an adult that I think are relevant to YA readers.

One of the things I love about working in the public library is when I'm presented with a challenge. My favorite is when someone claims they have read everything and that there's nothing left for them to read. That's how I rediscover little gems like The Terrorist by Caroline B. Cooney. I read this in early high school on the suggestion of my local librarian. Mind you, this came out before September 11, 2001 & the London Underground bombings of 2005, so this seemed kind of far-fetched to me. It goes a little something like this:

Sixteen-year-old Laura Williams is enjoying the simple life. As a visiting American, studying at the London International Academy, she doesn't really think much about the future or the possibility of being a target. That all changes when her eleven-year-old brother Billy naively accepts a package from a stranger in the metro, which turns out to be an explosive that kills him and others.

Consumed with grief and shock, Laura withdraws from her social circle and becomes extremely paranoid. She is determined to find out who killed her little brother so she can exact revenge. This obsession begins to take a toll as she lashes out at friends, suspecting everyone from a classmate to the IRA. Her downward spiral bottoms out when the killer decides that she's getting too nosy for her own good. Can Laura save herself and bring justice for her gone-too-soon brother?

Again, it may have something to do with the time period when I read this book, but it was so frightening and gripping. I couldn't put it down. Laura's grief consumed me and I found myself desperately searching for Billy's killer as well. I really empathized with Laura and felt like I really understood her. While she could definitely play the clich├ęd American a bit too much, she was a strong, determined young woman.

At the time I read it, this book seemed a complete work of fiction as nothing like that could really happen. Imagine my utter shock and horror when this book's situation became a reality in my life. While I was not directly affected by these tragic events, we are all affected in some manner. This book became much more important to me upon re-reading it because with older eyes, I saw more depth of character and more sophisticated situations than I had originally observed. Truly worth a read, The Terrorist is a simple Cooney story with real-life implications. I hope you give is a shot!

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