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Derailed    by Jon Ripslinger order for
by Jon Ripslinger
Order:  USA  Can
Flux, 2006 (2006)
* * *   Reviewed by Lyn Seippel

High school is a ball for popular, athletic Stony Stoneking. When it gets too serious he just keeps smiling until things go his way. The problem is things are getting too serious in too many ways. His girlfriend never stops making it clear that she wants to get married after graduation and the no-fail rule is about to get him kicked off the football team unless he can get his American Lit grade up. His parents are constantly fighting and it's easy to see his dad has a drinking problem. Even his best friend is behaving in a self-destructive way.

Stony's counselor and football coach want to set him up with a tutor. His girlfriend Mindy is jealous of time not spent with her, but he has no choice. He'll have to sign on with the tutor until he can talk her into doing the work for him. Stony's tutor, Robyn Knight, has no intention of doing the work for him and if he can't get with the program and start working, she'll tutor someone who wants to learn. A single mom who is still in high school, Robyn wants to make something of herself. While she wants to give back to her new community, she has no intention of letting Stony slide just because he is a football hero with a wicked smile.

As Stony gets to know Robyn and her son, someone keeps painting a huge red heart with blood dripping from it on the outside of his house. Thinking it must be Mindy, his soon to be ex-girl-friend, he's more annoyed than worried. Mindy is sure Robyn is at the root of all their problems and she can't see what Robyn could have that she isn't willing to give Stony whenever he asks. Robyn finally trusts Stony enough to tell him why she is living with her sister in Thompsonville instead of in Connecticut with her parents. Her son's dad is a psycho who raped her at gun point and has threatened to kill their son.

Stony matures during his final year in high school. When he has to make hard decisions, he is ready. When he faces danger, he doesn't flinch. He also makes decisions about his future instead of just letting the future happen. His relationship with Robyn is sweet and realistic. Derailed is a good read with a nail-biting climax.

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