The US Review of Books
Cracking the Code: Spreading Rumors by Kris Yankee Ferne Press
reviewed by John E. Roper
"I didn't know exactly what, but it was like I was stepping out on the ice for the very first game of the season. I took a couple of silent deep breaths to calm the butterflies in my stomach."
An interesting phenomenon sometimes occurs when a person graduates from high school. Along with the feeling of freedom from final tests and the anticipation for what lays ahead, some people experience a startling, emotional release as they feel the bonds of peer pressure and social scrutiny they've been tied up with for most of their lives suddenly unravel. Those first twelve years of school have frequently been described as "living in a fish bowl," an environment where those swimming in the same "school" can suddenly turn on you. The author manages to realistically recreate this atmosphere for her readers in her latest novel.
Toby Karlson is a popular fifth grader who has been used to enjoying a good reputation among his peers. Then one day an unfortunate accident at the sixth-grade orientation causes his friends, teachers, and fellow classmates to suddenly see him in a negative light. Betrayed by his best friend who refuses to own up to his own part in the incident, Toby comes up with various schemes to restore his place in the social order, only to watch each ploy fail and plunge him further into the mire of infamy. It will take a trip to fifth-grade camp, a new friendship, and a new understanding of past relationships to help Toby get back into the cool club.
Yankee does an excellent job of showing how a relatively minor incident can explode into a situation of high drama among young people. Yet she also shows that with the proper attitude even seemingly unresolvable conflicts can be fixed and become valuable life lessons. Believable characters, fast pacing, and solid writing make this book an enjoyable addition to youth literature.
Woohoo! Isn't that awesome? I am completely humbled.