Fifteen-year-old Webber hits a young girl, seriously injuring her, while taking a little illegal driving practice with his indulgent grandfather. Webber, himself, is injured, and unlikely to return to the track team he has loved. He has trouble remembering the accident during the first weeks of his recovery, especially since his grandfather has determined to take the blame for the accident. But as memory returns, aided by the bitter insinuations of a classmate who babysits the injured girl, Webber is torn between accepting his grandfather's cover for the sake of a clean record and an unencumbered high school career, and confessing. The technical fact that his grandfather was legally responsible for letting him drive complicates the ambiguity of his dilemma. Ultimately, he makes the decision to confess. The book concludes with his telling his grandfather of his intention--a decision that is sure to be relationally as well as legally consequential.


The story makes it painfully clear how easily just such a moral and legal dilemma might arise for anyone in a moment of carelessness or as a result of a spontaneous bad decision. The grandfather's good intentions, the baleful classmate, the anxious, unclued mother, and Webber himself--uncertain, unheroic, and in pain on multiple levels, are all believable characters. The ending stops short of playing out the consequences of Webber's decision, which may be frustrating to readers who have been waiting to see what will happen to him, but it does put the accent on the process of making the hardest decision of the character's life. The story doesn't moralize, but does deliver a strong warning about the terms on which anyone gets behind a wheel.


Random House, Delacorte Press

Place Published

New York



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