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First-time author Neil Connelly's deft and insightful novel about 15-year-old Keegan Flannery's search for life, described by one reader as a male version of Laurie Halse Anderson's "Speak"
Keegan Flannery was born a twin though his brother Michael did not survive birth. Now, two weeks before Keegan's sixteenth birthday, he has a dream about his own death. Understanding that Michael was supposed to have lived, and it was he who was meant to have died, Keegan sets out to right all the wrongs by planning his own suicide.
But in the final weeks before his 16th birthday and his last day on earth, life intercedes in the plan: Keegan joins the wrestling team and a dialogue between him and his father begins. And it may just be enough to change Keegan's ideas about confession, penance, and the gift of being alive.
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No matter how hard he tries, Keegan Flannery just can't forgive himself. With no close friends to confide in and only a silent, broken father at home, Keegan torments himself daily with the belief that he is to blame for the dissipation of his once vibrant family. As the only person with his mother when she suffered a mental collapse, Keegan feels responsible for her decline, as well as the infant death of his twin, Michael. In a dark vision of his own beginning, he imagines choosing his life over Michael's, "Even when my hands pulled on his shoulders and pushed him down, away; even when I stood on his body and shoved myself up to be born, my brother never fought." Now Keegan, a devout Catholic, has decided that his short life is worth very little when weighed on the spectral scales of St. Michael the Archangel, his twin's patron saint. So instead of a party, he begins to plan a suicide for his 16th birthday. Only a curmudgeonly coach, a wild card wrestler named Nicky, and an acknowledged place on the school's underdog wrestling team stand between Keegan and all eternity. But will they be enough to encourage an underweight, overwrought wrestler who's lost his will to fight?
A deep, dense book full of contrasts between light and dark, and rich in religious and mythological symbol, St. Michael's Scales is not for the casual teen browser. But for those dedicated readers who champion Keegan through the bleak days before his birthday, the literary rewards are greatly satisfying. (Ages 13 and older) --Jennifer HubertFrom School Library Journal:
Grade 8 Up-Keegan, 15, is besieged by problems. His mother is in a mental institution, his older brother ran away years ago, and his father is caught up in his own problems and barely notices his son's existence. The teen's frail health and small size make him the object of ridicule at school, and he is haunted by the "ghost" of his twin brother, Michael, who died at birth. Steeped in stories of saints and martyrs at his Catholic school, Keegan decides that he will stop the pain and join his twin by burning down the school and killing himself on the day before his 16th birthday because Michael wants him to. As he goes about making his plans, the wrestling coach almost commands him to fill in for a sick wrestler. Despite the initial bullying and hazing by team members, he becomes part of the group and finds a sense of belonging that had previously eluded him. He also finds that wrestling and the trauma of witnessing another school outcast commit suicide bring him and his dad much closer and they are finally able to talk about the guilt they both feel over the tragedies in their lives. Connelly's complex coming-of-age novel delves deeply into the human psyche and the soul as Keegan realizes that acceptance, not penance, is the answer to facing life. The characters, although often extreme examples of a type, are believable and likable. This is a dark story but one that is ultimately hopeful.
Janet Hilbun, formerly at Sam Houston Middle School, Garland, TX
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
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Book Description Arthur A. Levine Books, 2002. Condition: New. book. Seller Inventory # M0439194458
Book Description Arthur A. Levine Books, 2002. Hardcover. Condition: New. 1. Seller Inventory # DADAX0439194458
Book Description Condition: New. New. Seller Inventory # STRM-0439194458
Book Description Arthur A. Levine Books, 2002. Hardcover. Condition: New. 1. Ships with Tracking Number! INTERNATIONAL WORLDWIDE Shipping available. Buy with confidence, excellent customer service!. Seller Inventory # 0439194458n