by Chris Lynch
Publishing Information: Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing: New York, 2005
Pages: 176 p.
Ages: 13 & Up
Keir, a senior football player, appears to be a good guy, polite and popular. However, is he guilty of an "inexcusable" crime against Gigi, a girl he adores?
Keir is a popular high-school senior. He's a good son, good brother and star football player and he's not afraid to tell us so. The story begins with the ending after graduation when everything went out of control - and it isn't good. Keir charms us, giving us glimpses of events leading up to that point, but everything is not as it seems and perhaps Keir isn't the wonderful guy everyone accepts him to be.
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Awards & Reviews:
Booklist Editors' Choice - Books for Youth (Older Readers Category), 2005
National Book Awards Finalist for Young Peoples Literature, 2005
School Libray Journal's Best Books, 2005
YALSA Best Books for Young Adults, 2006
Booklist, September 15, 2005, p. 55 (Starred Review)
Lynch has hit a homerun with this provocative, important read about Keir, a self-proclaimed "good guy" headed for college on a football scholarship. With two sisters in college, Keir lives alone with his lonely, widowed father, who treats Keir more like a buddy than a son. After Keir accidentally cripples an opponent during a football game, things really go awry, especially since his victim lets him off the hook with a letter of forgiveness. With his name cleared, his peers christen him "Killer," a nickname that seems to give him license to do all sorts of unsavory things, such as hazing classmates, vandalizing a statue, trying cocaine and ultimately, date raping Gigi Boudakian. The underage drinking and recreational drug use is handled fairly cavalierly up until the stint with cocaine, but readers will still feel uneasy as the well-crafted sequence of Keir's reckless behaviors crescendos toward a disastrous end. Keir's self-delusion, irresponsibility and sense of invincibility are dangerous, sending the important message to all teens, particularly high-school heroes and their would-be victims, that some things are inexcusable. (Fiction. YA)
--Kirkus Reviews, October 15, 2005 (Starred Review)
High school senior Keir Sarafian may remind Lynch fans of Earl Pryor, the narrator of Who the Man. Though more intelligent than Earl, Keir is also an unreliable narrator, whose reporting belies to readers the unintended results of his ungainly strength and impulsive actions. As the novel opens, something horrible has happened: "The way it looks is not the way it is. Gigi Boudakian is screaming at me so fearsomely." Intervening chapters in flashback trace how Keir and Gigi, who were childhood friends, arrived at this moment, which readers soon gather is a date rape from Gigi's perspective, and a natural progression of shared intimacy from Keir's viewpoint. Lynch plunges readers into Keir's psyche in a way that makes him almost sympathetic, if frightening. On the football field earlier in the school year, Keir tackled a receiver and crippled him, but in his mind, he was only doing what he was trained to do (the opponents "were getting too comfortable. Too lazy, spoiled, entitled.... It is inexcusable"). Later in the novel, when he learns that his older sisters (he "talks about [them]... like [they were] angels") simply boycotted his graduation (not absent due to exams, as they had said), his world crumbles. With his portrait of Keir, Lynch makes it nearly impossible for readers to see the world in black-and-white terms. This book is guaranteed to prompt heated discussion. Ages 13-up. (Nov.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
--Publishers Weekly, October 17, 2005, p. 69 (Starred Review)
Gr 9 Up-Keir is a senior who fancies himself a "lovable rogue." So do his widowed father, his older sisters, and his classmates. He likes being liked; he just doesn't do well with involvement. Keir would never do anything to hurt anyone intentionally-or would he? When he tackles and cripples a member of an opposing football team, it's determined to be an "accident"-one that earns him the good-humored nickname, "Killer." When he and his buddies destroy a town statue, they consider it a high-spirited, funny prank. When he gets drunk, the alcohol abuse is dismissed as "silly, harmless drinks," and drugs at parties are "strictly recreational." And when he date rapes the girl he thinks he loves, at first he convinces himself that "the way it looks is not the way it is." Keir's first-person narrative chillingly exposes the rationalization process that the troubled teen goes through to persuade himself and those around him of his innocence. Characters are clearly developed through immediately post-rape chapters that alternate with flashbacks of Keir's experiences and perceptions leading up to that point. As compelling as Laurie Halse Anderson's Speak (Farrar, 1999), though with a different point of view, this finely crafted and thought-provoking page-turner carefully conveys that it is simply inexcusable to whitewash wrongs, and that those responsible should (and hopefully will) pay the price.-Diane P. Tuccillo, City of Mesa Library, AZ Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
--School Library Journal, November 2005, p. 140 (Starred Review)
Discussion Questions and Ideas:
- Do you like Keir? Would you like him if you didn't know what happened?
- Do you believe him when he tells us how good of a guy he is? Why do others believe him?
- When did it occur to you that perhaps you shouldn't believe everything Keir is telling us?
- What is it about Keir that makes him so likeable? Unlikable?
- Does Keir believe what he tells us about himself is he completely self-deluded?
- Does Keir ever expose himself to us during his telling of the story?
- How do Keir's sisters feel about him? Why do they opt out of his graduation?
- What are the influences in Keir's life that have led to his behavior?
- How does Keir's father influence him?
- Could/should anyone have intervened at some point in Keir's life to get him back on track? His father? Sisters? Coach? Friends? Why doesn't anyone?
- What do you think about Keir's drug use?
- What will happen to Keir?
Chris Lynch's Website - http://ChrisLynchBooks.com
Interviews with the Author
Author Profile: Chris Lynch - http://www.teenreads.com/authors/au-lynch-chris.asp
Bloomsbury Author Information: Chris Lynch - http://www.bloomsbury.com/childrens/microsite.asp?id=353§ion=3
Date Rape: What is It? - http://teenadvice.about.com/od/daterape/
Teens Health: Date Rape - http://www.kidshealth.org/teen/your_mind/problems/date_rape.html
Teen Drug Abuse
The Partnership for a Drug-Free America - http://www.drugfree.org/Teen/
Breaking Point by Alex Finn, 2002
Breathing Underwater by Alex Flinn, 2001 (2002 RITBA Nominee)
Invisible by Pete Hautman, 2005 (2007 RITBA Nominee)
Looking for Alaska by John Green, 2005 (2007 RITBA Nominee)
Shattering Glass by Gail Giles, 2001
Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson, 1999 (2001 RITBA Nominee)
Things Left Unsaid by Stephanie Hemphill, 2005
Other Books by the Author:
Shadow Boxer, 1993
Gypsy Davey, 1994
Slot Machine, 1995
Blood Relations, 1996
Dog Eat Dog, 1996
Political Timber, 1996
Babes in the Woods, 1997
Johnny Chesthair, 1997
Ladies' Choice, 1997
Scratch and the Sniffs, 1997
The Wolf Gang, 1998
Extreme Elvin, 1999
Gold Dust, 2000
All the Old Haunts, 2001
Who the Man, 2003
The Gravedigger's Cottage, 2004
Me, Dead Dad, & Alcatraz, 2005
About the Author:
Chris Lynch was born and raised in Boston and now lives in Scotland with his family where he continues to write and mentor young writers. He has an MA from the writing program at Emerson College and is a Prinze Honor winner for his novel Freewill. His favorite hockey team is the Boston Bruins and his favorite city is Edinburgh. His favorite CD is the Rolling Stones' Hot Rocks. His favorite qualities are a sense of humor, a strong work ethic, and responsibility. For relaxation, Chris Lynch likes to walk; his favorite place to be is in his house when his children return from school and call out "hi Dad" to him; and his favorite motto is "shut up and write."