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The Less-Dead    by April Lurie order for
by April Lurie
Order:  USA  Can
Delacorte, 2010 (2010)
Hardcover, e-Book

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* * *   Reviewed by Lyn Seippel

It's not easy being the Bible Answer Guy's. His dad's famous Christian radio show is just one more reason why Noah Nordstrom is rebelling against his parents, religion, and the church.

At a youth church retreat, Noah and his girlfriend Aubrey slip away into the woods to further their sex education. They're only making out, but Aubrey is the pastor's daughter and when they're caught, she's forbidden to see or talk to him again. This is made easier because Noah and his best friend Carson are sent to the Rock for eating crackers topped with apricot-hash at school. The Rock is the school district's sentence for behavior not suitable for regular schools.

Noah meets Will in downtown Austin where he and his friend Carson have gone to try out new songs for their musical combo. Will, a foster kid with no home, also attends school at the Rock. He, Will and Carson become friends. When Carson points out that Will is gay and seems to have a crush on Noah, Noah is thunderstruck. He doesn't have anything against gays and he considers the church's treatment of gays unchristian. He doesn't mind having a gay for a friend, but the crush thing freaks him out.

When Will is later found dead, Noah is ashamed of brushing him off. He'll never have the opportunity to make things right, but he is determined to find Will's murderer.

This is a suspenseful mystery and a coming-of-age novel that holds a strong message using controversial current events. It is the first YA book I've read about hate groups denouncing homosexuals and the violence that often results. Lurie includes scriptural interpretations at the back of the book that will interest readers of all ages.

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