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Ginger Shaw first sees the odd woman following her during a party. Then the strange phone calls start and the woman confronts Ginger. She claims to hold the key to a secret from the past. But when the confrontations turn violent and the woman's idle threats turn deadly, Ginger is forced into a crisis of loyalty and honor-a crisis from which her family might not recover.
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Ginger Shaw first senses she is being watched at her 13th birthday party in a restaurant, and the suspicion seems borne out when an odd woman approaches her. During the next several days (while her parents are conveniently out of town), Ginger sees the stranger wherever she goes. Readers gain information about the stalker early on, when a shift in the narrative identifies her as Joyce Enderly, a former mental patient who believes that Ginger is her long-lost daughter. Joyce's plot to abduct Ginger begins to take shape as Ginger becomes involved in a crusade to prevent a harassed basketball coach from losing his job; the conflict distracts her, to some extent, from Joyce's presence. However, readers may find the somewhat overblown school conflict a distraction as well, as Kehret's (Searching for Candlestick Park) focus shifts awkwardly between the two plot lines. Thriller buffs may be disappointed by the thin characterizations and contrivances, but Ginger, at least, is strong and sensible, and most readers will want to stick around long enough to see how she escapes Joyce's clutches. Ages 10-up. (Apr.)

Gr 5-8-Two separate plot lines involve Ginger in danger and controversy. She is being stalked by a mentally ill woman who believes that the 13-year-old is her daughter. Meanwhile, Ginger's favorite teacher, Mr. Wren, is being harassed by Mrs. Vaughn, an irate and influential parent who doesn't like the way he is coaching the girls' basketball team. Ginger's parents are away on business trips, so there is no adult on the scene to turn to when she and her older sister begin to suspect that someone is watching their house. Nor can anyone advise her on what to do in the case of her teacher. Because she videotapes the school's basketball games, she has proof that Mr. Wren has done a good job of coaching. But if she makes those tapes public, her mother and sister may lose customers because Mrs. Vaughn threatens to boycott their party-planning and catering businesses. As events unfold, suspense builds. The mentally ill woman is a sinister presence, but she is not a well-developed character. Mrs. Vaughn is the quintessential obnoxious parent, pushy and self-centered. Ginger is a plucky, thoughtful young teen. When the two plots converge in the final scenes, everything is resolved satisfactorily. This enjoyable novel will draw readers' interest and keep them turning pages. The message, that a person should follow her conscience and do the right thing in spite of the expected consequences, is one that young people will understand and appreciate.-Bruce Anne Shook, Mendenhall Middle School, Greensboro, NC

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