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Claws    by Will Weaver order for
by Will Weaver
Order:  USA  Can
HarperTempest, 2004 (2003)
Hardcover, Paperback

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* * *   Reviewed by Rashmi Srinivas

Jed Berg's life is perfect. He's sixteen, a good student, polite and conscientious. In the space of six months he has won all that his heart desired - his elder sisters left for college and are no longer around to torment him; he has a hot senior for a girlfriend, along with his driver's license; he has grown sideburns; and he made number one singles in varsity tennis. His parents, unlike so many others, are together even after all these years - a definite plus as far Jed is concerned.

He's as content as any teenage boy could possibly be. But his perfect life doesn't last for long. A 'punk chick' with pink hair soon bursts his bubble by forthrightly informing him of his father's affair with her mother. Though a shocked Jed at first refuses to believe her, the evidence she provides is ironclad. He decides to investigate and is surprised to discover the truth behind the identity of thepunk chick, Laura. He's also crushed when he realizes that her accusations are true.

A strange relationship develops between Jed and Laura as they find themselves hopelessly adrift in a maelstrom of emotions. And the downward spiral of events continues. Unable to repress his agony, a troubled and tormented Jed acts out at school, with disastrous consequences. The only one to understand him is Laura, who is having her own share of troubles trying to act as a mother to her rebellious younger sister. Together they try to sort out their feelings in the face of devastating betrayal by their own parents.

Will Weaver has created a powerful story. He has an uncanny knack for taking the reader into a teen's head, so that it seems that Jed is talking directly to you, and Laura is almost as well characterized. Their feelings of betrayal, shock, panic and anger, when they realize that things are out of their hands, are natural and well described. The atmosphere of a family torn apart and the consequences are evocatively portrayed.

Even as a reader begins to think they've got a handle on how the book's going to end, the author throws a bombshell which is sure to shock and surprise, but which is nevertheless completely fitting to the story. Honest but brutal.

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