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Grace’s entire life has been in preparation for her death. She is what her people call an Angel, a person trained to infiltrate the enemy with a bomb strapped to her leg (aka suicide bomber). Some of her fellow Angels feel honored to have this important task to highlight their lives, but not her. She is used to being treated as a second-class citizen of her people due to her mother being among the enemy. Even the boy she is pledged to just before her assignment (because it is always better to die pregnant, thus giving two lives for the people) despises her. So just before Grace turns 17, she is sent off to die, all in the name of freedom for her people.

But Grace wants to live her own life and have hope for the future. So she does the unthinkable. She wiggles out of the bomb and shoves it out of sight before escaping the crowd. And then she sets it off. She can’t return to her people or live amongst the enemy, so she disguises herself, hops a train and begins the long, dangerous journey to the border.

Grace bribes someone to help her, and from him receives some fake papers, a disguise, and a fellow named Kerr to travel with pretending to be her brother. Kerr is angry and full of his own nightmares, but he also helps her survive and slip by the guards. Grace doesn’t know Kerr’s story and doesn’t ask, but when she finds out who he is, she is forced to examine her own heart with painful honesty.

Elizabeth Scott delivers a powerful tale about the horrors of war. She writes with a unique, very personal voice, inviting her audience to feel the very beat of Grace’s heart. This is a story about a world filled with pain and one young woman finding the courage to have hope. Scott adds an ironic twist when Grace discovers that the two warring worlds are more alike than either would ever admit and addresses living with the consequences of one’s actions. She brings the story to life with vivid details, gripping suspense and painful flashbacks, slowly revealing the full truth both to readers and to Grace herself. This is a book with substance and grit that will urge teens to think about things long after the last page is turned.        

Reviewed by Chris Shanley-Dillman on November 29, 2011

by Elizabeth Scott