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Shatter Kindle Edition
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Shatter is set in the small agricultural community of Verona where tensions between peach growers and farm laborers fan flames of cultural mistrust into deadly violence. High school students take sides, a migrant worker goes missing, and peach pickers go on strike. The multi-million dollar peach crop rots in the orchards. Adding to that tension is 16-year old Salem Jefferson’s virgin lips which seek to be kissed.
Salem Jefferson is a socially awkward teenage girl grieving the accidental death of her older sister. But when the missing union worker’s body is found on the Jefferson peach farm, Salem feels driven to determine the man’s cause of death, convinced that her sister was murdered because of the same forces. Growers have hired Hispanic gang members to do dirty work in the past. Gang members dot her school and become her primary suspects.
Cordero is a mysterious boy in Salem’s English class. When the teacher assigns students to put on a mock trial of the Kennedy assassination Cordero and Salem must work together. Coincidences build as the mistrust between Cordero, a Mexican farm labor boy with a gang tattoo, and Salem, a grower’s daughter escalates. Much like Romeo and Juliet, these modern teens feel romantic but forbidden attraction for each other.
Salem and Cordero must examine the destruction causes by distrust, false assumptions, and stereotypes in their search for truth.
Beyond the killer’s need to stay undetected are the needs of life and community that build Verona. The farm laborers strike seeking more money. Growers refuse, citing sharply rising production costs. And all the while the average consumer demands cheap food in the grocery store, even if that food is imported to keep the prices down. Imported food means less grower revenue and fewer farm worker jobs. Each side makes demands without holistic comprehension of competing needs. Those demands threaten to destroy an entire industry and with it the people whose lives depend on it. Cordero must decide the value of Salem’s life and what he is willing to risk for her, himself, and for the needs of his people, even if they are gang members.
Shatter examines the needs of food producers, farm workers, and consumers through the lens of high school students’ involvement in an activist group. This involvement leads the reader to feel what the human cost of food production really is through the lives of Salem and Cordero, driven forward by the sweet possibility of their first kiss. This book rocks!
Another thing I liked was that the book described horrifying events without making them a total gore-fest. Leaving more to the imagination can allow the reader (especially a young reader) to imagine only what they're ready for, whether they're 11 or 17 or (in my case) 29.
Oh, and did I mention -- NO LOVE TRIANGLE? Thank heaven. It would have been so easy to go there, but the author stayed away. Seriously refreshing not to see that tired trope trotted out again.
For enthusiasts of YA or YA mystery, this is a winner. You'll stay up late reading and think about the characters and their difficult choices long after you've turned the final page.
Salem was very relatable and I loved her character arc. I loved watching this girl gain confidence in herself. She learned to believe in herself even if no one else did. She learned to dig deep enough to find out the truth about a person, instead of taking them for face value. She learned to be fearless in convincing others to see themselves the way she saw them.
I loved the authenticity of all the conflict. This setting was very real and the people were genuine and complex. I absolutely loved the mystery and how the plot all tied together at the end. I highly recommend this book!!! Thanks Nikki for the awesome experience!
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