Ann's Reviews > The Interrogation of Gabriel James

The Interrogation of Gabriel James by Charlie Price
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's review
May 21, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: children-young-adult, mystery
Read in May, 2011

There's a current (June 2011) to-do among those who read and critique young adult fiction over whether the genre has gotten too dark/grim/melodramatic/R-rated (or worse). Without getting into the fracas, I'll just say that proponents of that argument might hold up The Interrogation of Gabriel James as evidence.

Montana high schooler Gabriel James - middling cross-country runner and son of a single mom (with lots of unresolved issues about his runaway, now dead, father) - is in a police station, wondering if he's going to be arrested. Gabriel was there when two teen boys were killed, one by the hand of the other, and came away badly injured. He and his mother were at one boy's funeral, where the boy's father was in handcuffs. A lot of people aren't talking, but Gabriel is, after a fashion. What exactly happened is revealed only slowly and in disjointed bits and pieces as Gabriel is interrogated. This is definitely not the Hardy Boys: there's animal abuse, racist harassment, drug abuse, all kinds of dysfunctional family issues, cults, homelessness, teen sex (not graphic), violence, some of it graphic and some of it sadistic ...

The book is on the whole well-written; well-paced with lots of action yet thought-provoking. Somehow I didn't find it worked quite as well for me as some YA novels - but that may be simply because I don't truly enjoy plot lines that are quite this melodramatic. This is not a criticism of melodrama, nor of those who enjoy it - just not my favorite cup of tea. (OK, I've shown my side in the fracas alluded to in the first paragraph.)

Price has said he drew upon his previous work in at-risk schools and psychiatric hospitals for the plot lines of this book, which is truly chilling.
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