March 24, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox

Pick of the Day: Chasing Shadows

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AVASTHI, Swati. Chasing Shadows. illus. by Craig Phillips. 320p. Knopf. 2013. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780375863424; lib. ed. $17.99. ISBN 9780375963414; ebk. $9.99. ISBN 9780375895272.
Gr 8 Up–Teen twins Holly and Corey, children of a Chicago police officer, are fast friends with Savitri, who is also Corey’s girlfriend. One night after the three complete a challenging freerunning session, Savitri witnesses a hooded shooter targeting Corey and Holly in their car. Corey is killed and Holly is hospitalized in a coma. Devastated, Savitri diligently attempts to revive Holly and tries to identify the shadowy murderer, perhaps someone seeking revenge against the twins’ father. When Holly finally awakens, Savitri realizes that her friend has changed. She refuses to accept her brother’s death and slips into a downward spiral of delusion through which she believes she can rescue him from a fantasized Shadowlands, inspired by the Hindu myths she learned from Savitri. Savitri, determined to heal Holly, even considers turning down her acceptance to Princeton to stay close by. When Holly’s deteriorating mental health begins to directly impact Savitri and puts her very life in jeopardy, Savitri must make important choices between friendship, loyalty, and survival. Fans of Cecil Castellucci’s Year of the Beasts (Roaring Brook, 2012) will especially appreciate this book’s themes and its hybrid format that alternates chapters from Savitri’s and Holly’s points of view in both compelling text and adept black-and-white graphics–graphics that ultimately deliver a sad and powerful twist.–Diane P. Tuccillo, Poudre River Public Library District, CO