Goth girl Matt lives her life by simple rules: Stay under the radar, never go by Matilda (only Matt), and don?t let anyone get too close. But everything changes when she moves in with a peaceful Quaker family in Pennsylvania. As the country fights a war in the Middle East, Matt fights her own personal war, battling bullies of her past and present and fighting to stand up for her belief in peace. Then violence erupts in town, and Matt finds that she will need to fight even harder to save the family she is starting to love.
Fourteen-year-old Matt (short for Matilda) arrives at her latest foster home and discovers that her new guardians have personalities--and convictions--as strong as her own. Unwillingly at first, Matt eventually accompanies foster parent Sam to Quaker Friends' meetings. She also learns to cope with a new school, where she likes most of the classes but fears a bully and her world civ. teacher. A series of attacks on area houses of worship--presumably by locals angered by antiwar sentiments espoused by the Quaker congregation members--builds to a heavily foreshadowed climax. In spite of Matt's rather quick adjustment to family life after years of fear and emotional deadening, this is a compelling story, which enfolds the political issues into a deeper focus on the characters' personal stories. Idealistic teens will be interested in Matt's growing acceptance of her new family, of Quaker values, and of her need to take action, rather than simply observe. Francisca Goldsmith
MAMA AFRICA: HOW MIRIAM MAKEBA SPREAD HOPE WITH HER SONG