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Kyra's Story: Degrees of Guilt    by Dandi Daley Mackall order for
Kyra's Story
by Dandi Daley Mackall
Order:  USA  Can
Tyndale, 2003 (2003)
* *   Reviewed by Melissa Parcel

Sammy James is dead. His twin sister, Kyra, believes that it's all her fault. He wouldn't have been in the compromising situation that resulted in his death if Kyra hadn't driven him to it. As she awaits her turn to testify at the trial for Sammy's murder, Kyra looks back at the past few months and ponders her role.

Kyra has held the lead in every play since kindergarten in her hometown of Macon, Iowa. She's a cheerleader who runs with the in crowd, and has already been accepted at NYU for next year. The charismatic new English teacher, Mitchell Wade, forges an instant connection with the students on their level. He is in charge of the senior play, and Kyra's tension mounts as she's not sure she will impress him enough to win the lead. In contrast, Sammy is laid back and does his own thing. Kyra feels the stress building each day -- the constant pressure to do, act, and be the best. She starts sneaking Xanax from her mother in order to take off the edge, and that works for a while. As Kyra becomes more and more addicted, her perception of her relationships is altered. When Sammy finds out what Kyra is doing, will she stop? What exactly is Kyra's role in Sammy's death?

I was pulled into Kyra's Story from the first page. It is one of three books in the Degrees of Guilt series, each written from a different person's perspective of the same events. The reader can use a code from each book to go to the website and read that person's trial testimony, as well as the final verdict, indicating who is responsible for what happened to Sammy. Kyra could be any high school senior. Her struggles with perfection will hit home for anyone who is currently experiencing the drama of high school, as well as those who are looking back. My daughter is a senior, and she said, 'Wow, this author really knows what we're going through!' Sammy is the innocent victim, and it will be interesting to see how everything plays out over the course of the next books. Mitchell Wade is the ultimate villain; he's cunning and integrates himself into the lives of the teens in a way that seems commonplace and natural.

A subtle faith message is included, as Kyra learns to depend on God rather than drugs for her strength. I recommend Kyra's Story, which has universal appeal, to both adults and teens. Readers will want to pick up all three books, to get the full picture of events surrounding Sammy's death.

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