Author: Paul Fleischman

Publisher: New York: H. Holt 1999
pages: 133
Author's website

Classification: Young Adult Fiction
Genre: Issues
Media Type: Book

Grade level: 7+

Reader's annotation:
After causing the death of a young woman in a car accident, Brent travels to the four corners of the United States at the request of her mother, building memorial Whirligigs for her, and finds forgiveness and direction.

Summary: Arrogant, wealthy and privileged Brent leaves a party drunk after feeling humiliated when the girl of his choice turns him down. Completely self absorbed he thinks ending it all is the best solution. He only succeeds in ending it all for an innocent young women when he lets his car go out of control. As retribution, the woman’s mother asks Brent to go to each of the four corners of the US and build a whirligig as a memorial to her daughter. Brent, anxious to get away from Chicago and his parents, agrees to go. Starting outside of Seattle, armed with some materials and a how-to book, Brent’s journey is one of self-discovery, humbleness, and growth. His self imposed isolation gives him time to think about what is really important in his life. When he does choose to interact with others he finds new meaning in his life. Interspersed throughout his story is the story of the people that are affected by the whirligigs he builds.

Excellent story showing the interconnectedness of the world and how the actions of one person can change lives. One message for readers is that even really bad mistakes can be redeemed.
Awards: BBYA,

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I grew up outside of Boston, went to college in western MA and lived in NYC dancing for several years before getting my teaching credentials and unintentionally moving to Santa Cruz CA. Married and divorced with two kids almost grown, a daughter in college and a son in high school, I am thrilled to be a librarian now, something that I should have done years ago. I love the applications of technology and realize that I have been interested in that since my first computer class back in 1986 - a new requirement for teaching degrees. Finally I can combine my love of curriculum, educational resources, working with adults and children, and technology applications.