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Reviewed by Tammy Ruggles for Readers' Favorite
Flashpoint Stentorville 2003 by Helmut and J.E.H. Roth has the makings of a YA icon. It's about two young teens, Bart and Ollie, whose lives intersect later, but whose stories are told separately at first. Bart hops a train out of town and goes east, where he finds himself in a rural area. The story tells of the people they meet and the things they encounter, like racism, white nationalism, bullying, and Alzheimer's--the parts about Dotty are moving--but also the flip-side of life too, like compassion and understanding. Although the story is set in the past, its relevance for today's issues can't be denied or ignored. A story like this--Bart and Ollie's stories and those of his eclectic mix of acquaintances--puts a human face on these social issues and can help young audiences understand them.
Flashpoint Stentorville 2003 by Helmut and J.E.H. Roth is short but powerful, with a well-paced plot and interesting characters that you can enjoy and learn from. The scenes of racism are a little difficult, but honest. The characters learn about themselves and other people along the way. I like the exploration of family values, peer pressure, and cultural influence. The authors' simple approach, quick style, colorful descriptions, and energetic dialogue work well here and don't hit the audience over the head with long political speeches. They let the plot and characters do the work. I also like how the tension builds over time, culminates in a high climax, and how these young adults transcend their influences. The quirky, clever titles of the chapters do a good job of piquing readers' curiosity. Fans of Stand by Me and American History X should connect with this book.