You, Charles Benoit’s  highly praised young adult debut (August 2010), will take your breath away. 

Youis a painfully realistic rendering of a teen caught in the hell of high youschool and the downward spiral of his own creation. In middle school, Kyle was engaged, smart ,and on the “right path.” But after a few misstepsand missed opportunities, and all those small, seemingly inconsequential choices, Kyle is a disaffected, angry, disengaged sophomore who doesn’t believe he’s going to amount to much. And the  attitude and image he projects to the outside world doesn’t give anyone else much hope for him either.  It makes for the perfect opportunity to wander into the trap of an unscrupulous, amoral, and seductive villain. 

Benoit renders Kyle’s story in an engaging, original perspective. By telling the story to “you,” Kyle is outside both the cause and consequences of his own actions. (It reminds me of Steve’s screenplay in Walter Dean Myers’ Monster).  This is both Kyle keeping a “safe” distance from the mess that is his life (protecting himself, if he can) and also an excellent device to connect the main character to the reader. This could be any teen in America – you know it’s you going through this pain and you wonder what, if any, are the tiny lines that separate Kyle’s fate from your own.

Benoit’s novel reaches into your emotional core and won’t let go.  Its relentless spiral downward is gut-wrenching and simultaneously stunning in its ability to speak in a very real way about the struggles and obstacles of high school.  Without even realizing it, you wonder, like Kyle does about the Shakespearean plays he’s assigned to read: does your free will create your destiny? Does your refusal to assert your will lead to your downfall? Do you regret the choices you made that lead to your destruction?  Are you just an actor on the stage in the play of life?  In the end, the only person who knows the answer is You.

  • Posted by Cori

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