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Page history last edited by RichiesPicks 11 years, 1 month ago

04 May 2008 THE TRIALS OF KATE HOPE by Wick Downing, Houghton Mifflin, April 2008, 329 p., ISBN: 978-0-618-89133-7


"I hate being fourteen. My calves are huge, my ankles are thick, my chest is a cavity, and my right elbow is larger than my left one."


In so many ways Kate is a typical fourteen-year-old who is beginning her summer vacation. But in 1973 Denver, Colorado, at the height of the modern Women's Rights Movement, Kate is actually a one-of-a-kind teenager: She is now a practicing attorney.


"My stomach hurt as I zipped back to the office. 'Your young man called,' Mrs. Roulette said, 'He'd like you to call him.'

"'Mike Doyle is not my young man!' The office had emptied except for Miss Willow, who sat huddled in a corner. 'I can't call him now. Miss Willow and I have to be in Judge Steinbrunner's courtroom in twenty minutes.'"


Having spent quality time with her curmudgeonly, sharp-but-nearly-blind, attorney grandfather, Kate has taken advantage of an old law that was still on the books in Colorado to obtain her law license. (In his Authors Note the author presents the case for this being possible.)


"'It's Kate Hope!' the receptionist said, smiling at me. She knew who I was, which was nice. All the receptionists, and secretaries, and the women who did all the work that men got credit for, knew who I was. I got energy from them too, because they wanted me to succeed. 'How are you, honey?'

"'Great,' I lied."


While Kate is primarily working by assisting her grandfather -- including helping with a case quite topical for 2008 involving a Mexican citizen who is in Denver on a work permit -- she ends up taking charge of a death penalty case: Elderly Miss Willow's only family -- her dog, Herman -- has been accused of getting loose in City Park and biting the Pearsan's baby. He is about to be euthanized unless Kate does something quickly:


"Her voice was one step from hysteria. 'There's no time to lose. Officer Milliken wants to put an end to the dog today. He will take the paperwork to the city attorney's office himself, and will walk it through.'

"'What does that mean?'

"'He will have the city attorney write up an order, ordering Animal Control to "destroy" Herman! That's what the law calls killing dogs. Then he will take the order to the judge and have it signed, and come back to the shelter, and...' Her voice trailed off to a gasp.

"'And what?'

"'He will see to Herman himself.'

"I was shocked. 'You mean he'll kill him personally?'


"'Why?' I asked. 'Is he a sadist or something? What's the big hurry? Why does it have to be today? What about Miss Willow?'"


The series of steps Kate takes in trying to determine what really happened that day in City Park and the extended effort she puts forth in trying to save Herman's life is dramatic, realistic, and eye-opening. Author Wick Downing is a retired lawyer who has written numerous legal thrillers for adults. The manner in which he has fit together the pieces of the tale of the dog makes THE TRIALS OF KATE HOPE an exceptionally quick and engaging 300+ page read.


"As the jurors filed back into the box, I considered my options. Was suicide an alternative? No, I thought, trying to cheer myself up. Mom would kill me."


For young adolescents caught up in trying to understand exactly how adults determine what is fair, and for those who are fascinated by the processes and rituals of our system of laws and the seeking of justice, THE TRIALS OF KATE HOPE provides an intriguing, entertaining (and frequently ugly) look at the inner workings of American jurisprudence.


Richie Partington, MLIS

Richie's Picks http://richiespicks.com

Moderator, http://groups.yahoo.com/group/middle_school_lit/




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