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Set in a small working-class town near the South Jersey shore, Palmers Gate describes 11-year-old Robby Cleff's attempts to understand and befriend the classmate who lives next door. Colleen Gardner is a childlike, virtually silent girl who may or may not be hiding a chilling secret. Sparely written but emotionally charged, the story builds to a powerful, indeed incendiary climax.
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After some years in publishing, Barry Varela retreated to the relative calm of Durham, North Carolina. He is the author of a picture book scheduled for publication on the Roaring Brook list in 2006.
Grade 6 Up–It's 1972, in the small town of Palmers Gate, NJ. Robbie, 10, is considered old enough to stay home after school without a babysitter, help out his single mom by making simple dinners, and hang out in the neighborhood with friends. Life is pretty straightforward, if limited, until a new family moves in next door. Robbie is never sure what's going on, never asks an adult or talks about it with his friends, but he knows that there is something strange about Colleen, the frightened girl who plays with his G. I. Joes and then offers to strip in the woods for the boys in his class. One night Robbie finds Colleen's ineffectual mother drunk in his yard and hears strange noises coming from her house. He doesn't understand what he overhears, although most savvy kids will guess that the father is sexually abusing Colleen. Robbie longs to be a hero, but all he can think to do is grab a can of gasoline and set fire to the house. In the aftermath, he is sent to military school and never sees Colleen or Palmers Gate again. There is no insight here for young readers, no clues for understanding the girl's predicament or Robbie's misplaced effort to help–just a sense of dread and helplessness. Readers are better served by Chris Crutcher's Chinese Handcuffs (HarperCollins, 1989) and Jacqueline Woodson's I Hadn't Meant to Tell You This (Putnam, 2006), both of which explore the challenges and risks that a young person faces in trying to understand and help a friend who is being abused.–Carolyn Lehman, Humboldt State University, Arcata, CA
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Book Description Roaring Brook Press 2006-05-30, 2006. Hardcover. Condition: New. 1596430737 BRAND NEW. Over 1,000,000 satisfied customers since 1997! We ship daily M-F. Choose expedited shipping (if available) for much faster delivery. Delivery confirmation on all US orders. Seller Inventory # Z1596430737ZN
Book Description Roaring Brook Press, 2006. Condition: New. book. Seller Inventory # M1596430737