Gr. 10-12. Australian writer Bone's murky novel about the ramifications of a hostage crisis on one of its survivors isn't easy to follow, but its unsettling depiction of a child's growing dependency on the madman who held her hostage is hard to forget. The novel opens 10 years after 9-year-old Freda became a media sensation when she was carried from the restaurant where she (and others) had been held captive. Now, as Freda prepares to face life without the protection of her mother, a strange young man appears. He knows intimate details of what occurred those years ago, including some things Freda has never revealed and tried to forget. The convoluted story unfolds gradually--through angst-ridden Freda herself, third-person sections devoted to troubled gunman John Wayne O'Grady, and, appearing midway through the story, notes on napkins written by the restaurant's manager. Motivations and plot manipulations won't bear close scrutiny (Freda's carving a wooden revolver--what's all that about?), but her struggle to separate from her mother and handle the burdensome guilt she has carried for a decade is compelling enough to keep readers involved. Stephanie ZvirinCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
About the Author
Ian Bone is the author of more than twenty books for young readers, which have been published in his native Australia, as well as in the United States, England, Korea, and Germany. The Song of an Innocent Bystander
was short-listed for Book of the Year by the Children's Book Council of Australia.