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Monday, October 28, 2013

Module 9: Black Mirror

Module 9: Mystery

Black Mirror
Author: Nancy Werlin

Book Summary:
     Frances’s brother Daniel has killed himself; he died of a self-injected overdose of heroin. He apparently had a long term drug habit, and Frances noticed nothing. Black Mirror follows Frances as she tries to cope with life without her brother. Should she join the charity group, Unity, to which he belonged to memorialize him? She should paint more pictures to hang on her bedroom walls? She decides that since she is at school on a Unity scholarship that she should join the organization, but she quickly finds out that she is not welcome. With no friends on her side, she has to figure out why that is, if it has anything to do with the truth behind her brother’s death.
APA Book Reference:
Werlin, N. (2001). Black Mirror. New York, NY: Speak. 

     I read books in the mystery genre a lot, however many of them are for adults and revolve around murder or death. In Black Mirror, the death occurs before the narrative even begins. It is also clear that the death is a suicide, so where is the mystery? The mystery lies in the Unity organization and why they will not accept Frances as a member. I have to say I found this book very predictable. I knew that the apparent suicide was probably murder and that the Unity charity was most likely a front for something else, most likely a drug operation considering Daniel’s cause of death. However, there was one twist that did surprise me and that was who killed Daniel.
     Despite the predictability, I did find this book entertaining. It was a quick read, and I think high school students would especially like this book.  

Professional Review:
Stevenson, D. (2001). Black Mirror. Bulletin of the Center of Children’s Books, 55(2). 81-82. Retrieved from: https://libproxy.library.unt.edu/login?url=http://search.proquest.com/docview/223692394?accountid=7113

“Frances didn't think she could become any more isolated-she's an artistic loner and scholarship student at swanky Pettengill Academy, she's a half-Japanese half-- Jewish ethnic curiosity in her largely Caucasian town, she's estranged from her father and her mother has returned to Japan and holed up in a Buddhist monastery. On top of all this comes the suicide of her older brother, Daniel (also a Pettengill student), apparently as a consequence of a longterm drug problem of which Frances had been unaware. In her grief, Frances tries to connect with Unity, the charitable organization that funded her and Daniel's scholarships and with which Daniel was deeply involved. She's perplexed and angered by the hostility of the group (especially Daniel's girlfriend, Sasha) towards her intention, and she's also suspicious of Unity's charismatic leader and his plan to use Frances-and Daniel's death-for publicity purposes; soon she uncovers indications that something is very wrong at Unity and that Daniel's death may not have been a suicide at all. There is a smattering of extraneous details here and readers will see the plot points coming well before Frances does (ranging from the drug smuggling that is Unity's true mission to the unmasking of a mysterious older student as an undercover FBI agent), but there's still a good deal of pleasure in the tale of intrigue. Frances is an appealingly bumbling heroine, unsure rather than Holmesian, so she's sympathetic as she sorts out friends and foes, helped by classic devices ("Instead I paused just outside and, astonished at myself but also somehow excited, shamelessly eavesdropped") and the requisite sidekick (a developmentally delayed handyman underestimated by the Unity members). This doesn't offer the taut psychological complexity of The Killer Cousin (BCCB 9/98), but it's an enjoyable tale of false fronts, dangerous secrets, and a girl's struggle to find the truth in a world gone awry.”

Library Uses:
     This book could be part of a library sponsored mystery book club or it could be used in an anti-drug library program.

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