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One of the Survivors Hardcover – September 8, 2009
The Amazon Book Review
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
"One of the Survivors is heart-wrenchingly honest, compelling, and ultimately, satisfyingly triumphant." -- Sally M. Keehn, author of The First Horse I See and I Am Regina
"Susan Shaw peels the layers away until nothing is left but the seed -- and it is both terrible and wonderful." -- Jerry Spinelli, author of the Newbery Medal-winning Maniac Magee
About the Author
Susan Shaw is the author of One of the Survivors, Safe, an ALA Top Ten Quick Pick for Reluctant Young Adult Readers and a Carolyn W. Field Honor Book, and The Boy From the Basement, a New York Public Library Best Book for the Teen Age. She lives in Wayne, PA, and you can visit her online at susanshaw.org.
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Top customer reviews
But like Shaw's other books, this story is done subtly and tastefully; it may make you cry, but it's not graphic at all, and it's more about grief than horror. Her treatment of the topic makes the story suitable for younger teens and even some mature tweens, in spite of the serious issues involved. I would particularly recommend this for teens who have lost a parent, because a lot of the story is about Joey's grieving over his mother's death over a year before the fire at his school, and trying to find meaning in the way she died.
Joey has already survived one fire - the one that killed his mother barely a year ago. Now he and his friend, Maureen, have survived a fire at their high school that claimed the lives of everyone else in their history class, including the teacher, Mr. Austen.
Since the two fourteen year olds were the only students in the classroom to survive, people in the community have decided to accuse them of starting the fire in the first place. The reasoning behind the accusation? How else would they have known that the fire alarm was not just a test.
That day the new fire alarm system was being tested. It started clanging before classes were even in session. Throughout the day, the fire alarm would sound, and the principal would announce over the PA that it was just a test. Joey became more and more unnerved each time the alarm went off, until finally, in history class, he snapped.
Even though Mr. Austen threatened him with detention, Joey stood up and announced he was leaving the building. Everyone knew about his mother's tragic death, but only Maureen knew Joey well enough to recognize his panic. As they both left the classroom and the building, they accepted the fact that they might be punished for their disobedience.
However, when they arrived outside to find the building was indeed on fire, their world changed forever.
ONE OF THE SURVIVORS by Susan Shaw is the story of Joey's life after the fire and his struggle to cope with the angry accusations of some in his community and to deal with his own private grief and guilt. Shaw uses a mix of Joey's personal journal entries and narrative accounts of the events surrounding the time leading up to and including the fire.
Readers will witness the emotional turmoil Joey experiences as he relives his mother's death and the senseless deaths of his fellow classmates. Shaw's control of the events and the way she gradually reveals the facts create a riveting read.
Reviewed by: Sally Kruger, aka "Readingjunky"
After Joey and Maureen survive the fire that caused the death of the rest of their classmates, people start to wonder how they knew to get out. Surely only someone who had something to do with the fire would know when and how to escape.....right?
Joey tells us his story through journal entries as he describes what he is experiencing in the aftermath of the fire. At first things seem a little blurry, but as you read on it becomes clear that Joey has a story of his own and you soon find out why he and Maureen escaped the fire in their classroom that fateful day.
This story shows the need that people seem to have that when a tragedy occurs we must blame somebody...somebody must be responsible and therefore be punished. As if in some cosmic way this make things even and just.
At times frustrating (as frustrating situations are) sad, and heart-warming this story of guilt, forgiveness and redemption will stick with me for a long time. Recommended for middle school and up!