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Echo    by Kate Morgenroth order for
by Kate Morgenroth
Order:  USA  Can
Simon & Schuster, 2007 (2007)
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Echo is a most unusual book, in which readers see a school day that ends in a double tragedy three times through the eyes of fifteen-year-old Justin, who is prompted by voices in his head - but his interpretation of events and reactions to them change subtly each time. What is going on?

The front cover shows the dissection of a rabbit, something that actually happens during that day in the high school biology class - since most students are afraid to touch the corpse, Justin volunteers to make the first cuts. In a similar fashion, he dissects his own emotions for us, while undergoing a horrendous day at school over and over again - a day filled with hateful looks, nasty comments, bullying, and hurtful encounters with his old girlfriend Megan.

But this pivotal day is not the worst in Justin's life. Exactly a year before the events in Echo, his younger brother, twelve-year-old Mark accidentally shot himself with his father's gun, in his elder brother's presence, while Justin was in charge. After this tragedy, Justin morphed from one of the in-crowd at high school - smart, popular and a star athlete - to a bitter, friendless outsider, who's continually in trouble for getting into fights with his previous best friend Billy.

In drama class on this day we replay again and again, their dynamic young teacher talks about 'the difference between truth and illusion.' Which, if any, of Justin's perceptions reflect truth? Read to the end of Echo to find out. It's an elegant, yet gut-wrenching tale that left me in tears. Highly recommended.

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