Sunday, June 15, 2008

Going Under by Kathe Koja

I recommend this book for: high school

Hilly and her older brother Ivan have always been very close, pilot and co-pilot. They've been home schooled by their (largely clueless) parents and have always depended on one another. This novel is narrated by both of them, and as it progresses the reader comes to understand that the one who seems to be the unreliable narrator is really the one who has it together.

Unfortunately, the storyline was only so-so. Hilly is plunged into darkness when a friend from a public school commits suicide. She wants to deal with it in her own way, by writing privately in her journal, but she is forced into counseling by her parents, then forced to switch therapists by her brother. The new therapist sounds brilliant, but his main goal isn't helping teen girls to heal - it's exploiting them, and Hilly is his new target. It wasn't really believable, but it had good points, such as the extended metaphor of Persephone in the underworld, and the rich and complex relationships between Hilly, Ivan, and to a lesser extent, their parents. And Hilly's poem at the end is chill-inducing. This isn't my favorite Koja book - if you really want to see what she can do, try Kissing the Bee instead.


*I already mentioned that teen suicide plays a role in this book - other issues you may want to be aware of are language, teen smoking (Ivan), and sexuality (Ivan again!)

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