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'Escape From Memory'          Send a link to a friend

[JULY 20, 2005]  "Escape From Memory," by Margaret Peterson Haddix, Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2003, 220 pages, ages 13 and up

Review by
Louella Moreland

It has been a while since I have sat down and read a young-adult book from cover to cover in one evening. Haddix's novel about a young teen who finds out she is anything but a normal teenager was a real page-turner to say the least. I was fascinated by the seamless shifts from normalcy to science fiction and back again. The plot moved so quickly, the characters were three-dimensional, and the resolution very satisfying.

Kira never questioned her life's memories until a slumber party when her best friends hypnotized her. In the middle of her best friend's family room, Kira's world slipped from its foundation. Suddenly she knew that what she experienced under hypnosis was real, and she had to find out why.

For the first time in her life, Kira felt different, like an outsider. Her friends were uncomfortable trying to make sense of her jumbled foreign-sounding words. Kira did not like the feeling or the fear that the memory evoked. And the memory seemed to be telling her that the woman who raised her was not really her mother.

Although Kira loved her mother, it did seem odd that her mother refused to drive the car, touch a computer or talk about their life before coming to Ohio. Her mother was not like her friends' mothers. She always seemed distant and a little sad.

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However, when Kira began to question her about the memory she experienced, her mother became fearful and disappeared. Then it was up to Kira and her best friend, Lynne, to solve the puzzle of Kira's family and rescue her mother.

The reader feels drawn into the story's suspense, having no trouble switching realities from small-town Ohio to a long-forgotten displaced village in Russia. One feels the fear and helplessness that the friends experience as they battle wits with a deranged woman executive from a California computer company. However, it is the simple, everyday descriptions in the narrative that I found most satisfying: the conversations, the loyalties and the intuitions between two best friends. But there is heartbreak as well when Kira has to make some rather tough decisions concerning what to believe about her life and her mother.

Haddix has again given us a story that will linger in our own memories. To read "Escape from Memory" or other books by Margaret Peterson Haddix, come visit us at the Lincoln Public Library, 725 Pekin St. Some of the best worlds you may visit are between the covers of a book or inside your own imagination.

[Louella Moreland, youth services librarian, Lincoln Public Library District]

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