From School Library Journal
Grade 9 Up—On August 31, 1979, tough cop John Busby was shot at close range while driving to work on Cape Cod. Bleeding profusely with the lower half of his face blown off, he realized that somebody wanted him dead, and identified a brazen local bully as the culprit, an arsonist with whose family Busby had clashed on the job. John and his daughter, Cylin, who was nine at the time of the shooting, recount the year that followed in alternating chapters, incorporating candid commentary and sometimes-disturbing detail about a crime that never resulted in arrests. With the entire Busby family under 24-hour police protection, John began the reconstructive surgeries that would stretch for years, while Cylin and her two brothers tried to cope with guards accompanying them to school and the resulting social isolation. John Busby is frank about the corruption in the local police department that let his attacker intimidate anyone he chose, and bluntly describes his frustration and need for revenge in the months following the attack. Cylin speaks with a voice of innocence shattered as she struggles to comprehend what happened to her family and why her friends have abandoned her. When the town balked at the continuing expense of providing personal protection and the constant fear brought the family to the breaking point, the Busbys went into hiding, seeking a return to some semblance of normalcy. The page-turner pace is frequently interrupted by awkwardly placed flashbacks to moments in John's police work, but, ultimately, this is a story of survival and triumph.—Joyce Adams Burner, Hillcrest Library, Prairie Village, KS
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Before August 31, 1979, nine-year-old Cylin’s biggest worry was avoiding her grumpy neighbor. Then her family’s life changed forever when her father, a Cape Cod policeman, was shot on his drive to work. Horribly injured, with most of his lower jaw blown away, John Busby somehow managed to stop his car and run for help. Although John was convinced he knew his attacker’s identity, the investigation mysteriously stalled, and the Busby family was given 24-hour protection during the long experimental effort to reconstruct John’s face. Eventually the family went into hiding, starting over in another state. In alternating chapters, John and Cylin Busby tell the story of John’s ordeal and the devastating impact on his family. John’s laconic, just-the-facts-ma’am style underscores the horror he was enduring, while Cylin’s perspective drives home the fear and emotional misery the family suffered. The appalling physical injuries may deter the squeamish, but this riveting story will stay with readers, particularly its message that John’s anger and desire for revenge were the hardest wounds to heal. Grades 9-12. --Lynn Rutan