The Stranger Within Sarah Stein

Texas Tech University Press  2012

This book is a page turner. It deals with some interesting themes—divorce and its effects, trauma and survival, differences between the exterior of an individual and who that person is inside, and clearing the name of person who has been falsely accused.

Sarah, who is twelve years old, fights to maintain her sanity after her parents announce they are getting a divorce. She does this in a unique way. She clearly understands the personality each of her parents expects her to be. So, since they have joint custody, when she is with her mother she is a proper, well dressed young lady. But when she is with her father, she is a motorcycle-jacket, Gothmakeup kind of person.

Crushed by their decision to divorce, she questions what they have done. “How do people fall out of love? How is it possible to love someone so much one day and then the next treat them like a stranger?” “In all ways they are at war, and I am the trophy.” Since Sarah feels her parents are no longer acting as parents, she enlists additional support and direction from her grandmother and from a homeless man whom she meets when he assists her after she has a bike accident. These interactions take the reader into some unexpected twists and turns.

In addition to fantasy, suspense, and mystery, the author gives readers some wonderful descriptions of New York City: “…the noises at night--all those loud footsteps that jam like jackhammers, the taxis buzzing like yellow fireflies…. The city feels like someone’s butt won’t get off the remote control; it’s all fast forward and someone hid the pause button.” He also gives us glimpses into post 9/11 New York and the Holocaust. Recommended for readers ages 11-16.

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