Langan, Paul. 2007. Shattered. New York: Townsend Press. ISBN: 9781591940692.
Trust is the name of the game in the twelfth book in the Bluford High series. Darcy has been through a lot in the books before this one. She was nearly raped by an older boyfriend, Brian, until her father showed up to save her. In this book, she is still dealing with Brian's attack, her mistrust in her current (and former) flame Hakeem, and her mother's distrust of her father, who has recently come back to the family after years of being an absent father. Through the book, Darcy deals with her feelings with the help of her friends and ultimately has to trust herself enough to stand up for herself against Brian and her own feelings.
Like the other Bluford High books, this book is a quick read. The plot moves quickly, and the sentences give just the bare story. Nothing about the book is elaborate except the plot. The sentences are short and choppy, and there is little elaboration to create mental pictures. While the writing may lack the articulation, it is the plot that draws readers, especially reluctant or slow readers who get boggled down with long sentences and detailed descriptions.
Darcy deals with drama many kids in urban cities face (like the school where I teach). The absent father has come home and wants to do what is right for the family. While his intentions are good, Darcy and her mother and sister have a hard time believing and trusting on a man who once turned his back on his family. No matter what a student's background is, he or she can relate to having trust broken whether it is a family member or friend. Students can identify with Darcy's struggle to believe her father. Darcy's fears about her father are put to rest when he finally confides in her that he is attending AA meetings when they think he off doing bad things.
Darcy also has to deal with a friend whose advice is more gossip than fact when Brisana tells Darcy that Hakeem may be cheating on her with a girl she's never seen before. Gossip runs wild in schools, and this book does a good job of showing how Darcy calmly deals with the gossip by walking away instead of getting into an argument or fight. She decides to believe Hakeem until she runs into him and the "other" woman. It is then that she realizes to trust Hakeem she must also share what happened to her with Brian while Hakeem was gone. In the end, she confronts Brian and puts those old ghosts to rest, allowing her to move on with Hakeem.
Darcy and her father both learn that burdens and struggles should be shared with the ones you love, and that trust can be regained even when you think it is shattered. These are two lessons young adults should hear, and this book does a good job of teaching them while still telling a fast-paced story that appeals to kids from all backgrounds.
**NOTE: I had a hard time finding reviews by "experts" on this book, so I went to the publisher's website, where I found reviews by teachers, which are probably more relevant than someone who doesn't work with kids. :)
"Thank you for the wonderful Bluford Series! We bought a lot of them for that great price. We were looking for anything our reluctant readers would spend more than 10 minutes reading. Kids are now swapping books, discussing them, not wanting teachers to end SSR time, and teachers have been coming begging for sets for their rooms also."
--R. Archer, Reading Teacher, Cabrillo High School (Long Beach, CA)
"I teach in a middle school, and there is little my students like less than to be asked to read. The Bluford books, however, have made a huge difference. The boys in particular will pick them up and actually lose themselves in them."
--H. Pollock, Teacher North Brandywine Middle School (Coatsville, PA)
http://www.townsendpress.com/product/97.aspx (Accessed November 16, 2008)