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Young adult book reviews for ages 12 and up - middle school and high school students

*You Have Seven Messages* by Stewart Lewis - young adult book review  
You Have Seven Messages
by Stewart Lewis
Ages 12+ 304 pages Delacorte September 2011 Hardcover    

It’s been a year since fifteen-year-old Luna’s mother died in a freak accident. Luna, her little brother, and their famous film director father have struggled to work through the loss, but the absence of that bright light in their lives will always leave a gaping hole.

Maybe it was a subconscious part of the healing process that led Luna to visit the studio where her glamorous and loving mother worked. Untouched since the day of her death, the studio is full of her mother’s spirit–and something more. Luna finds her mom’s cell phone there, with seven messages waiting to be heard.

Listening to the cryptic messages, Luna discovers that her mother was not exactly the woman they all loved and thought they knew—and that her life with them was only one piece of her universe. Who are the people who left those messages? Why has Luna never met or even heard of them? And do they have something to do with the ‘accident’ that killed her mother?

As she tries to unravel the mystery of her mother’s life, Luna’s own life takes a few unexpected turns, too. The boy she’s watched from her bedroom window suddenly notices her, and one of the until-now unknown players in her mother’s secret world turns out to be a guiding angel for Luna and her photography career.

You Have Seven Messages is a well-rounded coming of age tale that sets itself apart from other such books in the genre with complex characters determined to protect Luna as well as her mother’s memory, and with enigmatic situations that challenge Luna’s youthful perceptions. You hurt me but I still love you is more than just a catchy phrase that pops into Luna’s head; it turns out to be the most important lesson she’ll ever learn.

As the story unfolds, the reader is caught up in the swirl of emotions and revelations right along with Luna and her family. As each new message is revealed, the plot grows murkier until neither Luna nor readers can anticipate what will happen next or determine whether her search for the truth should continue. Good guys, bad guys, and ordinary people are indistinguishable, just as in real life, and danger is more than just a physical threat.

You Have Seven Messages is billed as a young adult novel, and most teens will find it a compelling read. Unlike the typical novel for young people, the ending here is neither happy nor sad, but it is realistic-- life seldom gives us answers tied up with a bow.

Adults, too, will be drawn into a world where love, in all its facets, mingles with betrayal and forgiveness. This is a novel that dares to expect more of the reader than mindless acceptance, and that gives a full measure of satisfaction in return.
Young adult book reviews for ages 12 and up - middle school and high school students

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