Wednesday, November 9, 2011

6. Fearless by Tim Lott

In the not-too-distant future, the world is safe from terrorists, the streets are clean, and girls labeled "juvies" or "mindcrips" have been hidden away behind the smartly painted exterior of the City Community Faith School. Their birth names are forgotten and replaced with a letter and number, but they give each other nicknames like Tattle or Stench or Little Fearless. As they slave away at chores, Little Fearless, who is actually the bravest girl in the school, tells the other girls stories, stories about the day their families will return for them. Little Fearless’s own hope and conviction spur her on a dangerous adventure — a bold and unthinkable plan that will either save the imprisoned girls or mean the end of Little Fearless herself, or both.

This is a heartbreaking story of fear and complacence by the adults and hopelessness and despair of the girls. There is a darkness throughout the novel that I did not expect from a Teen novel.
The dystopian world where identities are stripped and children are separated from family evokes strong empathy from the reader. Still, there is hope for most of the novel. Mostly is comes from Fearless as she refuses to give up and then to those few close to her at the school. As Fearless breaks rules in her quest to free the girls, those girls who know of her actions initially protect her. The girls are punished in an attempt to identify the culprit. Already denied their true names, their individuality is taken bit by bit. Their heads are shaved. They are dressed identically in gray. Soon it is difficult to tell one from another. An image of the nameless girls, reminiscent of holocaust photos, is painted. For some, survival means siding with the Controller and cruelly acting as his enforcers. For Fearless it means risking all to make their plight known and prove to the girls that people do care about them. The holocaust comparison can be taken further with allusions to entire communities afraid to act, extensive propaganda and hidden atrocities. While rather intense for my grade K-6 schools, I think this would be an excellent comparison discussion for high school students to some of the social and moral crimes of World War 2.

This is haunting tale that, in its conclusion, shocks the reader. Haunting is a good description as it stayed with me for quite a while.

Book # 6 of my 50 book challenge

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