Saturday, September 25, 2010

THE GUARDIAN by Joyce Sweeney

Joyce Sweeney's books are always popular with my students so I was excited to finally get my hands on THE GUARDIAN.  I wasn't disappointed, and my students won't be either.

Hunter has been tossed around the foster care system for as long as he can remember.  He was four years old when he was sent to live in a Catholic orphanage.  Since then he has lived with a series of foster families.  Most recently, he's been living with Mike and Stephanie.  One of four foster children, life there is pretty good.  That is until Mike has a stroke and dies.

Now Hunter is living a nightmare.  When her husband died, Stephanie became a totally different person.  She was always a bit controlling and sometimes got carried away with discipline, but now that Mike isn't around to keep her in check, things are getting crazy.  She expects all the kids to get jobs and help with family finances.  Even little five year old Drew is being forced to enter kiddie beauty pageants and model to bring in money.  When Hunter objects to Stephanie's plan to let some strange guy photograph Drew in exchange for portfolio headshots, Stephanie severely beats Hunter. 

Thinking back to Mike's funeral and the mysterious motorcycle rider who rudely interrupted the service, Hunter begins to fantasize that he has a guardian angel.  The dim memory of a tall, dark stranger who appeared to him on the day he was taken from his mother and sent to the orphanage provides fuel for Hunter's growing fantasy.  Is there someone looking out for him?  Continued sightings of the motorcycle rider and several mysterious email messages have Hunter revisiting childhood memories of the power of prayer and religion.

In THE GUARDIAN Sweeney creates a powerful story about the importance of love and the feeling of family.  Hunter's attachment to his foster siblings has him protecting them despite risks to his own physical well-being.  Sweeney forces Hunter to examine the power of family love as he confronts the mysteries of his past.  The stirring emotions and edge-of-your-seat action combine to make THE GUARDIAN one of Sweeney's best.

1 comment:

Ms. Yingling said...

This looks like one that my students will like. I don't know why they like problem novels so much, but they DO!