Sara – Greg Herren (Bold Strokes Books)

Buy it direct from Bold Strokes Books

I’m not much one for YA fiction, but I read a certain amount
for the blog and what always amazes me about YA by Greg Herren, David-Matthew
Barnes and Steve Berman is how different it is from the stuff being fed to adolescents
when I was one. These fine authors, as well as others, concentrate on the A
rather than the Y. And like Herren’s Sleeping Angel earlier this year, Sara
is no exception.

Tony Martin’s senior year is an eventful one, but not the
way he had in mind. First, his best friend, Glenn Lockhart, comes out, causing
him some anxiety and guilt over being anxious. They’re still friends, but
Tony’s one of the few guys sticking with Glenn. And after someone decorates
Glenn’s locker with the word “faggot,” people start choosing up sides. Enter
the new student, Sara Sterling, a beautiful girl who is soon always at Glenn’s
side. And oddly enough, his enemies start dying. 

The deft plotting that serve both his Scotty Bradley and
Chanse MacLeod mystery series’ is in full swing here, and Herren never misses
an opportunity to either deepen his characters or move the action along. His
writing is always economical and serves to do one or the other. He never wastes
a word. The Bradley and MacLeod mysteries do have a great deal of local NOLA
color, but Sara could be set in any town. I miss his Big Easy locale,
but making the setting more universal also renders the plot scarier. After all,
one expects supernatural happenings in New Orleans.

More importantly for this genre, Herren never writes down to
his audience. Nor is his YA ever voiced by anything other than an
age-appropriate narrator. And speaking of that narrator, Tony Martin is an
interesting character. Not quite comfortable with his best friend’s sexuality,
he does not hide that discomfort from the reader. He admits it and tries to
learn from it—an admirable quality and a lesson that young adults should be
taking away from whatever they read on the subject.

Herren is to be lauded, not just for his contributions to
the mystery genre, but for his prolific nature and the genuinely high quality
of his output. It seems no matter what he tries, he finds success.

Try Sara and see if you don’t agree. 




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©, 2012, Jerry Wheeler

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