McMann, L. (2010). Gone. New York: Simon Pulse.
Appetizer: In the final book of the Wake Trilogy, the town has learned that she is the key witness in the town's big court case and that's drawing a lot of unwanted attention and people have given her the lovely nickname, "narc girl." So, she and Cabe plan a little summer break and leave town, but their rest is soon interrupted by an emergency call that someone in Janie's family is in the hospital.
I think Gone was a very strong conclusion to this trilogy. The sparse language is consistent with the previous books. Plus, the tensions over Janie's worries over her future that were alluded to in Wake, explored during Fade, were brought to the forefront in Gone.
In Gone, I really saw how Janie's relationship with Cabe was her one supportive and loving relationship. I really liked that McMann included this, since teens often feel like their romantic partner is their world. While most of the time, I think it's important for teens to remember their friends and family are there too, in Janie's case, her relationship with her mom is so pained, her character really needs the support of someone. And readers see that.
But at the same time, not everything is perfect with Cabe, since both he and Janie are worried over their future together since they know Janie's power will hurt her more and more as she ages. I liked that McMann explored these concerns as well as presented the foil of Carrie and Stu's relationship.
Also, with this book, Janie's father makes an appearance. I do wish that possibility had been foreshadowed a little more in the previous books.
If this is the first you've heard of the Wake Trilogy, it's important to know, dear reader, this isn't really the type of series in which you could pick up any book and start reading. The books build on one another heavily, so stick to the publication order.
It's like she can't breathe anymore, no matter what she does.
Like everything is closing in on her, crowding her. Threatening her.
The hearing. The truth coming out. Reliving Durbin's party in front of a judge and the three bastards themselves, staring her down. Cameras following her around the second she steps outside the courtroom. Exposed as a narc, all of Fieldridge talking about it.
Talking about her" (p. 1).
"Janie's not cut out for this--she's a loner. She is underground. It's like she hasn't even had time to let all the other stuff sink in--the real, the important. The janie life-changing stuff. The stuff from the green notebook.
Going blind. Losing the use of her hands.
The pressure is breathtaking.
Just wants to run.
So she can just be" (p. 2).
"Carrie, whose normally dancing eyes are dulled from the weariness of the unusual day, looks at Janie. "Apparently, it's your father, Janers. He's, like, really sick."
Janie just looks at Carrie. "My father?"
"They don't think he's going to make it" (p. 30).
"She leans her head against Cabel's shoulder and slips her arm behind his. He turns, slides her onto his lap, and they hold on tightly to each other.
Because there's no one else" (p. 45).
"And she imagines life without him. Blind, gnarled, but loved...at least while things are still good. And always knowing what struggles he's dealing with through his dreams. Does she really want to see that, as years go by? Does she really want to be this incredible burden to such an awesome guy?
She still doesn't know which scenario wins.
But she's thinking.
Maybe broken hearts can mend more easily than broken hands and eyes" (p. 45).
To Go with the Meal:
I think this series is an excellent recommendation for reluctant female teen readers. All three of the books read quickly and girl's can relate to Janie emotionally.
I also really like that the stories present a dysfunctional family in a lower class living situation. It's not often enough that this lifestyle is presented in literature. It can be a necessary window or mirror into a way of living that we need to see more often.
A teacher can also provoke an honest discussion on the experience of having an alcoholic parent and can provide information on where teens can find support.
Gone also references Catch 22 pretty heavily. So, a teacher could try to drum up some interest in getting kids to hit up that classic next. Or a teacher could focus discussions on making impossible decisions and the choices students would make.
Tasty Rating: !!!