Black Helicopters

by Blythe Woolston

Young teen Valley and her older brother Bo have always lived in hiding with their... read more

Young teen Valley and her older brother Bo have always lived in hiding with their father. In their remote forest home, they've had almost no exposure to the outside world and know only what their father tells them. And what he's told them over and over across the years is not to trust "Those People," the government. They could arrive any time in black helicopters, like the ones that were flying overhead when their mother died. He's also taught them how to survive, so when their dad doesn't return from one of his mysterious missions, the two of them know just what to do, until everything starts to go wrong. Told in terse first-person prose, a novel that moves back and forth between the present day, in which Valley is venturing out into civilization on a mission of her own, a vest full of explosives strapped to her chest, and the past becomes tauter and tauter. In flashbacks, Valley reveals how she and Bo took refuge with an encampment of survivalists who know their dad, and soon both of them are being used by the camp leader. In the present, Valley must improvise when her mission goes awry. She ends up with two hostages, a teenage boy and his little brother. Blythe Woolston's riveting narrative is remarkable and unsettling and incredibly discussable as she probes the mind of a girl whose understanding of the world has been (mis)shaped by propaganda and paranoia her entire life, with results both poignant and tragic. (Age 13 and older)

© Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 2014

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