Book talks for readers at Chisago Lakes Middle School.

Friday, September 11, 2009

If the Witness Lied by Caroline B. Cooney

She was supposed to be the leader. Now guilt rules her world. She thought she could run away from the pain, but she can't break the dark hold a memory has on her mind.

As a girl named Madison sits in a parked car outside a shopping mall, she stares down a memory through a curved glass window. The family inside the mall really doesn't belong to her, but she needs to pretend. While she sits, Madison looks out the window and notices a familiar vehicle parked nearby. One look at it makes her shudder. It looks exactly like the one she remembers. So desperate to know, she walks up to it and opens the door just to be sure. To Madison's relief, it isn't the same vehicle, but she is disturbed by one significant detail. She squeezes the parking brake slowly. It takes more force to disengage than she expects. Does anyone else know about this?

Madison thought she could escape the pain of a broken home by finding a new family. She was the oldest. She was supposed to be the leader, not the one to run away. Can she get past the guilt that blinds? Will she reveal a clue that could save her own family, her real family?

Then there’s Madison's sister, Smithy. She also left home. Somehow she had the wherewithal to enroll herself into a private boarding school for girls. Like forgotten papers in a desk, Smithy filed away the memories of her hometown, her best friends, and the members of her own family. It was almost like she pretended amnesia. What made her want to start a brand new life with no trace of her real family to explain?

Then there is Jack, the only one with enough courage to stay home. Someone besides his aunt had to keep an eye on little brother. Jack had his own sacrifices to make and secrets to keep. He quit the football team, and then stashed something in the attic above the garage. He would do whatever was necessary to protect his brother.

Tristan, the youngest, is only a little boy. Tristen’s third birthday is fast approaching and he loves playing with anything that has buttons. Who could ever be afraid of a three-year-old like him? You might if you knew that most people in town consider Tristan the reason for his parents’ deaths. According to a witness, Tristan released the parking brake in the family Jeep that rolled over his father's body.

All the evidence points to one little boy. But, what if the witness lied? Find out who the real killer is in Caroline Cooney's intriguing mystery, If the Witness Lied.

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