"Chuck and Travis painted Nazi swastikas and 'Kill Kikes' in large dripping orange letters across the front of the house. Then they turned to me. 'Let her rip, Campbell,' Chuck said.... I opened fire and felt the exploding power of each bullet as it left the gun. No one could be stronger than I was at that moment."
Ben Campbell, 17, is angry. Angry at having to live in a broken-down trailer park. Angry that his unemployed dad isn't a respected ranch boss any more. Angry at having to defend his exasperating younger brother, David. Most of all, angry at the rich kids at school who seem to get away with everything. Only when he's out with Chuck and Travis, burning a Jew lawyer's car or shooting up a synagogue, does he feel powerful and in control again.
It was his dad who got them all going to the meetings of the Guardians of the Identity, where Lonn explained how all their troubles were because of the Jews and the blacks and the homosexuals, and how they had to keep those people from moving into their little Montana town. Ben knows that isn't right, but still, he needs to feel that power. But when he falls in love with Eden Taylor he knows he wants to move beyond Lonn's ideas, and when David gets involved in his place, Ben realizes he must take a stand. This taut, intense, first YA novel by newcomer Nora Martin is as bracing as the Montana snow that blankets the story. (Ages 12 and older) --Patty Campbell
From Publishers Weekly
An angry teen gets involved with a white supremacist group in Martin's (The Eagle's Shadow) uneven problem novel. Ben Campbell's embittered dad can't find work and the family has moved to a trailer park in Lodgette, Mont. Feeling snubbed at school, Ben, who narrates, responds to the racist rhetoric of the "Guardians of the Identity" meetings his father takes him to, and experiences a surge of power when he sets a Jewish lawyer's car on fire. But when he, along with others, throws rocks at an allegedly gay student's windows, the victim's face reminds Ben of his younger brother, David, and Ben feels unexpected remorse. He's further troubled when the group's leader praises the vandalism, making it "sound as if we were doing something good and positive," and Ben sees his errors in what reads as a sudden about-face. Befriended by rich Jason and dating Eden, who turns out to be part Jewish, his eyes are opened further but he cannot stop David from becoming more involved with the group. While much of the prose is graceful, Ben and the others unfortunately come across less as three-dimensional characters than as vehicles for general observations about the roots of hate; for example, as the Guardians' leader accuses "the Jews" of taking over the banks and the government, Ben thinks, "For the first time everything made sense. There was a reason for Dad losing his job." Quick resolutions combined with the thinly developed cast yield a relatively simplistic handling of a complex issue. Ages 12-up.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.