Shades of Simon Gray by Joyce McDonaldSimon Gray is the ideal teenager — smart, reliable, hardworking, trustworthy. Or is he? After Simon crashes his car into The Liberty Tree, another portrait starts to emerge. Soon an investigation has begun into computer hacking at Simon’s high school, for it seems tests are being printed out before they are given. Could Simon be involved?
Simon, meanwhile, is in a coma — but is this another appearance that may be deceiving? For inside his own head, Simon can walk around and talk to some people. He even seems to be having a curious conversation with a man who was hung for murder 200 years ago, in the branches of the same tree Simon crashed into. What can a 200-year-old murder have to do with Simon’s accident? And how do we know who is really innocent and who is really guilty?
Shades of Simon Gray
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The other day, my college student daughter and I were driving along when we saw a young girl, maybe 13 or 14, walking down the sidewalk following her father, who was at least 30 feet ahead of her. The reason she was so far behind was that she had her nose in a book, reading as she walked. It reminded me a lot of the young lady that sat beside me. And when I was a kid, I read just about everything still do, when you get right down to it. The biggest difference between now and then, apart from the obvious change in reading level, was that I would stick with one genre for months at a time biographies, science fiction, mysteries. I'd read until I was satiated and then would move on to something else. I wondered if anyone else read like that, and if kids do so today.
On the night that a horde of peepers disgorge themselves from local streams into the town of Bellehaven, "shrieking like souls of the dead disturbed from their slumber," a teenage computer whiz named Simon crashes his car into a landmark, the Liberty Tree. Crows descend next, to consume the dead frogs, and a number of portentous plagues follow—metaphoric indicators that the bucolic community is not what it seems. Simon, who has been hacking into the school's computer system to help a group of popular teenagers cheat on their exams, falls into a coma. His stupor is punctured by a series of dreamlike encounters with the ghost of the legendary murderer who was hanged from the Liberty Tree years ago. Was he really as guilty as everyone thought he was?
Simon Gray is the ideal teenager — smart, reliable, hardworking, trustworthy. Or is he? After Simon crashes his car into The Liberty Tree, another portrait starts to emerge. Could Simon be involved? Simon, meanwhile, is in a coma — but is this another appearance that may be deceiving?