Sunday, September 8, 2013

"Streaks of Blue" by Jack Chaucer

"Streaks of Blue" by Jack Chaucer is an intriguing take on one of the darker aspects of our society. School shootings. It's sub-title is  How the Angels of Newtown Inspired One Girl to Save Her School. Nicole Janicek is 17. Her long, dark hair is highlighted with streaks of blue dye that is one of her distinguishing features. She loves hiking in the New Hampshire White Mountains with her best friend, Candace. They revere Cheryl Strayed , author of the memoir "Wild". On their last hike before the start of their senior year at High School, Nikki longs to camp out at the Lakes of the Clouds above the tree line even though it's not allowed. When a hut crew member shows up to warn them about what they're doing, Candace makes a deal with him to let Nikki stay if she spends the night in the hikers hut. He agrees, as it's hard to say no to the 6 foot tall, gorgeous girl.
Nikki spends the night looking up at the stars. That night...she has an odd dream. A little girl appears in her tent... the girl tells her that her name is Star. She asks Nikki to accompany her to her classroom which is outdoors under the stars. She notices an older boy, the girl tells him his name is Adam. Adam Upton. Nikki remembers him from elementary school where they used to be friends. Then the teacher turns to Nikki and asks her for her help. They tell her Adam is planning something bad. The teacher writes a figure on the chalkboard. 12:14. They tell her to bring Adam back before it's too late. Nikki asks for the address and is told Star will give her a note, so she'll remember. It's a blue sticky note with stars on it. It says 14th & Stardust.
She wakes up in her tent. What could the dream mean? She searches in her pack to find her notebook...and finds a baggie she doesn't remember. Cookies from her mom, with a note. Contained in her mother's note are the date 14th, and the word stardust.
 Was it just a dream? Or a premonition? Adam is a boy often referred to by other students as trailer-trash. His best friend is Thomas "Lee" Harvey an angry, sneering loser who identifies with the original Lee Harvey (Oswald). Are they planning something? Will she reach out to Adam? Despite  Candace's objections?
I won't give away too much of the story. While the subject matter might have been trite or exploitive in other hands, Mr. Chaucer treats it with sensitivity and his characters sympathetically. It's tense, moving and thought-provoking. Nikki is an amazingly strong, smart and brave young woman. She's a great, realistic role model for girls (or anyone!). Give this one a try!  Plus, this is just up on the author's website: "And remember, no matter how or where you buy “Streaks of Blue,” I’ll be donating half of the proceeds to the Newtown Memorial Fund. So here’s a chance to read my best novel yet AND help a worthy cause all at the same time!"

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