Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Freeze Frame--Heidi Ayarbe

Heidi Ayarbe's debut YA novel, Freeze Frame, is about the aftermath of a shooting accident in which Kyle's best friend Jason is killed. Without being preachy, the book sends a clear message about gun safety and the impact on a community, family, and friends when tragedy strikes.

Ayarbe uses Kyle's interest in filmmaking as a literary device, as he writes the last moments of Jason's life (and, later, memories of better moments in their friendship) in scene after scene, using a different filmmaker's style each time. Filmmaking is Kyle's dream for the future, but it also becomes his method of reconstructing memories of the accident, and eventually, the key to moving forward. Once Ayarbe dives in with the scenes, this works well, but some of the film terms (freeze frame, rewind), constantly used to describe Kyle's reaction to the shooting, begin to lose their effectiveness in repetition by chapter three or four.

Kyle's story is compelling, but I did find myself struggling to suspend my belief in certain places. The fact that Kyle blames himself for Jason Bishop's death, and the anger the Bishop family felt, are very believable. The police taking him away in handcuffs? A stay in juvenile detention? Given the circumstances of Jason's death, and having lost a cousin to an accidental shooting myself, I found this hard to swallow. Similarly, Kyle's "red rage" makes sense, and his desire to stand up for himself shows character development, but could this short and skinny boy really win a fist fight when outnumbered by bullies? Only in the movies he's so fond of, I suspect.

Ayarbe shines when it comes to the minor characters. Jason himself has a warm presence both in his "conversations" with Kyle after his death and in several brief flashbacks. Jason's younger brother Chase is unique and endearing as Kyle's last connection with the Bishop family. Mr. Cordova, the mysterious school librarian from Colombia, and Kohona, a Native American teen and photographer, are both lovely additions who help round out the story as they help Kyle discover the possibility of new friendship.

Freeze Frame will be available from Harper Collins on October 7, 2008.

1 comment:

  1. fantastic review!! (thanks for checking out mine from Reader Views)