In the Middle of the Night
In the Middle of the Night

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Annotation: Denny Colbert is thrown into a plot for revenge, stemming from a terrible, long-ago accident in which his father was involved and that killed 22 children.
Catalog Number: #153423
Format: Perma-Bound Edition
All Formats: Search
Publisher: Dell
Copyright Date: 1995
Edition Date: 1997
Pages: 182 pages
Availability: Special Order Only - Contact Customer Service at +1 800 637-6581 or +1 217 243-5451
ISBN: Publisher: 0-440-22686-4 Perma-Bound: 0-605-32117-5
ISBN 13: Publisher: 978-0-440-22686-4 Perma-Bound: 978-0-605-32117-5
Dewey: Fic
LCCN: 97153423
Dimensions: 20 cm.
Subject Heading:
Revenge. Fiction.
Language: English
ALA Booklist
Almost 25 years ago, on Halloween, Denny's father was an usher at a theater that collapsed, killing 22 children and injuring others. Although he was absolved of any guilt, his family has continued to be harassed by those needing someone to blame. Sixteen-year-old Denny has been forced to lead a sheltered life, moving often, making no friends, even forbidden to answer the phone. In the tragedy's twenty-fifth anniversary year, Denny marshals the strength to rebel when he finds himself engaged in a suspenseful, sensual telephone game with a victim bent on revenge. Once again, Cormier explores the underside of human emotions: hatred, guilt, thirst for revenge. From the first page, readers will be caught up in the story as Denny is dragged closer and closer to apparent doom at the hands of someone too sick for Denny to defend himself against. The ending lacks resolution, leaving Denny with an obsession he might never escape and his father struggling with what is clearly unjustified guilt--exactly the kind of ending Cormier fans have come to expect. (Reviewed Apr. 1, 1995)
Horn Book
Denny is not allowed to answer the phone at home because the callers often are those who accuse his father of having caused an accident, years before in which many children died. When Denny begins to answer those calls, he is seduced by one of the callers, a mysterious woman named Lulu, and looks forward to their tense conversations. A suspenseful, powerful exploration of accusation and guilt.
Kirkus Reviews
Cormier again takes on The Big Themes—love and hate, death, sin, guilt and expiation—in this riveting tale of a son increasingly involved in his father's tragedy. John Paul Colbert, 16, was the only person in the old Globe Theater's balcony when it collapsed, killing 22 children seated below. Although the he was officially cleared of wrongdoing in the ensuing investigation, he became the target of bomb threats, hate mail and middle-of-the-night phone calls from the bereaved and injured—even 25 years later. Unable to understand how his father can accept the harassment so passively, John Paul's son Denny, 16, answers the telephone one afternoon and finds himself listening to the friendly, seductive voice of Lulu. From Cormier's masterfully placed clues, readers already know that Lulu is the worst of John Paul's persecutors; slowly she draws Denny into a deadly trap by playing on his adolescent fantasies and emotional confusion. A melodramatic climax in which Lulu is killed by her own brother leaves Denny shaken but alive; he is still confused about his own feelings but closer to comprehending his father's. The author goes easier on his characters (and readers) than in some of his books (Tunes for Bears to Dance To, 1992, etc.), but still poses an array of tough moral choices, offering neither clear answers nor a neat ending. (Fiction. 12+)"
Publishers Weekly
A psychotic mystery caller threatens a teenage boy's family. In a starred review, PW praised """"the masterful crafting of the book's intricate plot and surprise ending."""" Ages 12-up.
School Library Journal
Gr 7 Up--When a balcony collapsed during a special magic show in a rundown, neighborhood movie theater, 22 disadvantaged children died. Although he was never charged with any wrongdoing, John Paul Colbert, who was 16 at the time, was working as an usher and accidentally caused a fire that contributed to the tragedy. He resolutely refused to comment on what happened even after the theater's owner committed suicide and the public clamored for someone to be held responsible. Many of the victims' relatives blamed John Paul for the incident and tormented him into adulthood. Years later, his son Denny, now 16, begins to receive the same harassing phone calls. Resentful of his father's long passivity, Denny resolves not to follow in the man's footsteps. Intersecting plot lines rush together in an exciting climax that reveals the relationships between some key characters. Parallel in plot elements and themes to Cormier's previous YA titles, especially We All Fall Down (Dell, 1993) and Tunes for Bears to Dance to (Delacorte, 1992), this book seems more accessible, especially to horror/mystery fans. While grim and terrifying in some respects, this is not, in toto, a bleak novel. Its style is reminiscent of Jay Bennett's, with fairly long passages of dialogue that are heavy with foreshadowing. Unresolved details detract only slightly from the power of the prose to address the painful process of maturing and of beginning to understand and accept adult roles. Readers experience several time shifts and must discern the identity of several narrative voices while grappling with complex themes concerning tragedy, guilt, responsibility, and expiation. YAs willing to invest some intellectual effort will be amply rewarded by this sophisticated psychological thriller.--Joel Shoemaker, Southeast Jr. High School, Iowa City, IA
Word Count: 38,381
Reading Level: 5.5
Interest Level: 7-12
Accelerated Reader: reading level: 5.5 / points: 6.0 / quiz: 10945 / grade: Upper Grades
Reading Counts!: reading level:6.8 / points:8.0 / quiz:Q05803
Lexile: 790L

Eight years before Denny Colbert was born, his father was involved in a tragic accident that killed 22 children. Now Denny is 16, and all he wants is to be like other kids his age. But he isn't allowed to answer the telephone or have a driver's license, and his family is constantly moving from town to town--all because people can't forget what happened long ago.

When Denny defies his parents one afternoon and answers the telephone, he finds himself drawn into a plot for revenge which may prove deadly.

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