When I was in seventh grade I started reading Lois Duncan. Keep in mind this was back in the early nineties, when Paula Abdul was still making albums (shudder) and the coolest thing fashion-wise was to layer several pairs of socks in a multicolored tier that matched your outfits (my shoes were two sizes bigger than I needed, and I wore those shoes until high school). Basically, Lois Duncan was the bright spot at the time.
The first Lois Duncan book I ever read was A Gift of Magic. I actually picked up the paperback at a thrift store, and it smelled like cat pee and cigarettes. But I braved the funk for the story, about a girl with a psychic ability. Why? Because it was AWESOME.
I then devoured just about every Lois Duncan book I could find. I loved the Daughters of Eve (appealed to my feminist side right up until it didn’t) and I Know What You Did Last Summer (even Jennifer Love Hewitt couldn’t ruin the story of a hit and run gone horribly wrong, as though a hit and run could go right). But my favorite Lois Duncan of all time has to be Killing Mr. Griffin.
This was the first book I’d ever read where even the protagonist was complicit in some not so nice behavior. I’d never really read a book where it was hard to agree with the hero, but in Killing Mr. Griffin you have the sense that the kids who kidnap their teacher aren’t bad. But their actions aren’t good.
The best part of the book is that you, as the reader, feel conflicted about whether or not they did the right thing. There’s no ambiguity like with I Know What You Did Last Summer, where you wonder right along with the folks in the car what the hell someone was doing in the middle of the road on a dark and stormy night (idea: stay home). The main characters in Killing Mr. Griffin set out to kidnap their teacher, and as things go from bad to worse (you had to know that the kidnapped English teacher was only the beginning) you begin to wonder why you even liked the characters in the beginning. Because you will like them, and they will continue to make bad mistakes, and you will groan and shout “WHY?” to the heavens, while the characters skip along towards what you know is going to be certain disaster.
And you will love every page of it.
So, I’m really glad that Lois Duncan is being re-released for a new generation. It looks like I have some reading to do…
Since there were only three entries for last Wednesday's contest, EVERYONE gets a book! Yay! Email your screenname, real name, and address to firstname.lastname@example.org so I can send your books!