My friend Vonda Frampton has written a YA novel entitled Defining Zach, and she asked me to review it for Amazon. Writing honest reviews of friends' books can be touchy; how do you write something less than positive without putting your friendship at risk? In this case, the book is fine, though YA isn't what I usually read. My only issue, I told Vonda, is that at times it seemed a tad preachy in spots. She graciously accepted the comment.
Here is the Amazon review:
Zach Patterson wants to dazzle the world. At thirteen, he will try the most daring stunts he can think of, as long as witnesses are on hand to verify his derring-do. Hurtle in his toboggan off a ski jump at the risk of life and limb? You bet. He hopes one day to match the great Evel Knievel. There is the problem of slipping grades in school, though, and the fact that his stunts don't win him all the acclaim he feels is his due. Worse, he must deal with a menacing classmate named Gary, whose personal problems make normal growing pains seem like a picnic. Their mutual hatred drives the plot to a different level than first seems apparent. Author Vonda Frampton understands adolescents well, and she understands how to build the tension in a story. What looks at first like a normal YA tale turns dark and potentially deadly as the underlying conflict becomes clear. But Zach often hears a Voice that no one else can hear, a guardian angel who tries to nudge him away from complete disaster. The angel has his hands full.
Defining Zach will appeal to mature pre-teens and young teenagers and to their parents. Sometimes the life lessons are laid on a bit thickly, which might put off a few readers, but those lessons are right on. Parents of young children will certainly appreciate this well-written book as a reminder of how hard it is to grow up.