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Page history last edited by RichiesPicks 10 years, 9 months ago

3 April 2002 BREAKING POINT by Alex Flinn, Harper Tempest, May 2002


"...I remembered what David had said: You'll be next. I knew it was true."


BREAKING POINT is the latest important teen tale to present a scenario of what may occur when a system condones horrific abuse of outcasts in school.  In this case, Paul Richmond, the narrator and main character, is a kid who cannot stop himself from repeatedly taking the bait offered by the golden boy at an exclusive Christian school Paul attends as a result of his mother working there.  The lure set out is the chance to be part of the in-crowd, the Promised Land for this self-described misfit. 


Following in the hallowed footsteps of such smart, contemporary books as GIVE A BOY A GUN, WHALE TALK, SPEAK, THE GIRLS, and THE MISFITS, Alex Flinn paints a shadowy picture here of subtle physical and psychological torture. But this is an "outcast story" told from a unique perspective and laced with ambiguity.  It caused me to spend a good portion of the book rather confused about what the truth really was. 


One thing I was certain of is that it would be hell to be in either David's or Paul's shoes, trying to endure, to survive, while being pushed to the breaking point.


The enigma in the story is the golden boy, Charlie Good.  Since the story is told through Paul's eyes, I continually wondered what Charlie was really all about.  There were times when I debated whether he was merely a thoughtless rich kid, like Heather in SPEAK.  Other times he made me think of Charlie Manson.  


"'So?' Charlie laughed.  'You need to learn, Paul.  Life's on the barter system.  We all use one another.  It's just a matter of getting something you want in return.'


'Right,' I said.


Just before I fell asleep, I wondered what Charlie wanted from me."


There are also some memorable adult characters here.  Certainly one of the thoughts I was left with was the impact that the respective parents had had on David's, on Charlie's, and on Paul's outlook and actions.  But again, we are left to wonder since so much is filtered second or thirdhand through the eyes of Paul.


Insidious, disturbing, and explosive, BREAKING POINT kept me on edge as I followed Paul Richmond's attempts to feel accepted.


Richie Partington




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