Wednesday, January 20, 2010

FREEFALL by Ariela Anhalt

I am always impressed with new authors.  The idea of all the hard work involved in writing a book, and then putting it out there for public criticism for the first time, must take an amazing amount of courage.  It is especially impressive when I turn to the author info on the back cover and see that the author is a 19 year old sophomore in college.  That's the case with a new release called FREEFALL.

Just how tough are you?  When life hits you with a father who commits suicide and a mother who can't seem to get passed it, how do you handle the other tough stuff that comes along?  Ask Luke Prescott.

One might think that Luke has it all.  He attends a fancy boarding school and has hopes of attending a nice college.  Money isn't really an issue for him or for the friends who surround him at Briar Academy.  He and his best friend and roommate, Hayden, are on the fencing team, enjoy the company of the occasional attractive female, and both get excellent grades.  What could go wrong?

Although Luke feels he knows Hayden pretty well, Hayden has been acting strange lately.  When a new kid named Russell shows up and demonstrates his excellent fencing skills, Hayden doesn't seem able to cope.  When Russell also moves in on Hayden's girlfriend, things come to a head.  Unfortunately, Hayden's temper may have gotten the best of him during an initiation ritual that involves the new fencing team member and a jump from a nearby cliff.

Luke finds himself faced with testifying either for or against Hayden at a trial accusing Hayden of killing Russell.  He was there, but answering the question about what exactly happened is much harder than Luke ever imagined.

Debut author Ariela Anhalt has crafted a sure winner.  Readers will be drawn into the culture of Briar Academy with its cliques and rituals.  Luke's family story adds depth and emotion that underline the complicated situation he faces at school.  Anyone who gets involved in his story will no doubt find themselves measuring their own strength and convictions against those of Luke and several other characters.  I look forward to seeing more from Ariela Anhalt.

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