Saturday, March 31, 2012

Code Of Silence: Teen Suspense With A Solid Message

Halloween is just around the corner, but eighth grade pals Cooper, Gordy, and Hiro never expected three men wearing masks to burst into their favorite burger joint,  wave weapons, demand money, and critically injure the co-owner, Frank, right in front of their eyes.  Making their escape from the robbers they hi-tail it across town, but before they can make it home, Cooper is snagged by one of the baddies and threatened.  He and his friends and family are in danger unless Cooper turns over the security camera hard–drive he grabbed before leaving the diner and had successfully hidden from the robbers. A hard-drive that will reveal who stole the money and put Frank in a coma. Problem is, he can’t go to the police because he has every reason to believe some dirty cops are involved in the heist.

Code of Silence by Tim Shoemaker is a quick-paced nail-biter.   Main characters Cooper, Gordy, and Hiro are fast friends who find themselves in a dilemma that tests their friendship and puts them in a position which causes them to choose between the truth or deceit.

Shoemaker’s main characters seem to follow the formula of teen-fiction friendship: Cooper, the impetuous leader, Gordy, the light-hearted lover of all things edible, and quiet, introspective Hiro, the girl and spiritual anchor of the group.  But it’s okay if it is formula, because it works.  What might seem predictable to a middle-aged woman (like myself) will seem fresh to a middle schooler.  The characters are likeable – and wonderfully average.  And that’s why I liked this novel.

They aren’t vampires, they aren’t fighting aliens, they aren’t being whisked back-in- time to battle black knights and evil sorcerers, and they don’t have super powers.  They are incredibly average, delightfully so.  What makes this book tick is that Cooper, Gordy, and Hiro are ordinary kids placed in an extraordinary circumstance – but a circumstance that could, in the everyday world, happen.

The fact that they are Christians also adds a layer to the story line.  The moral quandary that Shoemaker explores is this:  If you are a Christian, is it okay to lie to your parents, teachers, and authorities in order to do what you think is best to protect yourself from a bad situation?  Are some lies legit? Some pretty deep waters for a book aimed at upper elementary to middle schoolers, but Shoemaker handles the topic with a style that is not heavy handed. 

Brimming over with bad guys, close calls, and subterfuge, Code of Silence drives home the point that God’s ways are the best ways – even if we can’t understand how that could be possible. 

(Courtesy copy of Code of Silence provided by Zondervan through Netgalley)

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