by Judith Hayn
Hogan, Edward. Daylight Saving. Somerville, MA: Candlewick, 2012.
Rupp, Rebecca. After Eli. Somerville, MA: Candlewick, 2012.
Two teen boys both named Daniel struggle with loss, and two different stories chronicle the journeys. Daniel Lever is an overweight, troubled lad whose Dad forces him on a week long holiday at Leisure World. Daniel’s mother has left them for another man, and the son is convinced he caused the break-up when he reported seeing her with the family doctor. His depression has led to bursts of anger and defiance at home and school while Dad drinks himself into a nightly stupor. At the resort, Daniel meets Lexi, a girl whose inexplicable injuries worsen at each encounter as her watch ticks backward. Is she real or just another hallucination so Daniel can hide his self-hatred? The climax occurs as Daylight Saving adds another hour; the tension and sense of doom are almost visceral as the author leads us to redemption for Daniel and his parents.
Daniel Anderson’s older brother Eli was killed in Iraq, and his death has ripped the family apart. His mother wallows in grief, seldom leaving the house while his dad demands more and more of Danny to replicate the success of the heroic son who is gone. Danny’s old life no longer makes much sense to him either; he compiles a Book of the Dead to force himself to look at others who died without much cause. He falls for a neighbor girl who is in town for the summer and befriends the high school dork Walter. His brief infatuation and new relationships threaten his status with the popular crowd at school, but somehow he moves on—aided by memories of Eli’s tutoring him in the art of living and surviving.
Both books, although occurring in two different locations (Great Britain and the United States), are tributes to the resiliency of the human heart when faced with unbearable hurt.
Dr. Judith A. Hayn is an associate professor at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.
This article is part of a series from the Special Interest Group Network on Adolescent Literature (SIGNAL).