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If the Witness Lied    by Caroline B. Cooney order for
If the Witness Lied
by Caroline B. Cooney
Order:  USA  Can
Delacorte, 2009 (2009)
Hardcover, e-Book

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* *   Reviewed by Lyn Seippel

Twelve-year-old Jack and his two sisters mourn for their mother but they still have room in their hearts to love Tris, the baby she died for. When their dad dies in a driveway accident that everyone believes is caused by Tris the Fountain family falls apart. Smithy goes off to boarding school and Madison goes to live with her godparents. That leaves only Jack to care for Tris. The only adult at the house is an unrelated aunt who loves the house but not the children.

The media had a field day at the time of the accident and now Aunt Cheryl wants to bring back all their pain on live TV. She contacts a television producer about telling their story. She tries to convince Jack this will help the family find closure, but Jack can only see the cruelty and damage that will be done to Tris when he sees the program later in life.

The only way to keep this from happening is to keep Tris away from the house until after the television crew leaves. Jack knows this is only a stopgap. Tomorrow they will be back, but he concentrates on what he can do now. With the help of Diana, Tris' frequent babysitter, he manages to stay away all day, but darkness is coming and Aunt Cheryl will sob to the police if they don't show up soon.

Meanwhile his sisters decide to come home. Feeling guilty about leaving, they show up in time to find out what is happening, but their objections mean no more than Jack's.

Cooney writes a tense narrative of a family who find that together they can change their circumstances. There is not much mystery here, but it works as a thriller. Though there is an unrealistic scene that jerks you out of events, and a hole in the plot, once you're caught up in the story, you'll read until the end. Jack and his brother are so sympathetic that readers must know what happens next.

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