By Heather Anne Hunter
Reviewed by Jon Muldoon
Raviís Revenge is not what one might typically expect of a book intended for teens. There are no romantic vampires, no wizards, no post-apocalyptic teens battling for survival in a televised contest.
What there is in Hunterís novel is an unflinching look at the possible consequences of substance abuse and depression in teens who lack support from the authority figures in their lives.
The book opens with 17 year-old Ravinder Singh waking up hung over and late for school again. His late arrival quickly establishes his place in the schoolís social pecking order, as he faces taunts and mockery from classmates.
Several caring but ultimately misguided teachers do their best to intervene and help Ravi deal with his problems, but the peace he finds at a treatment centre quickly dissipates as events spiral around him upon his return to school.
Hunter, who is a teacher herself, writes about the cruel vagaries of life as a teenager with a painfully honest approach, sparing no sympathy for teachers, be they ďgoodĒ or ďbad.Ē Itís rare to see such realistically portrayed moral ambiguity in a novel, much less one meant for teens, and itís a far cry from Hunterís previous work.
Hunterís mother, Bernice Thurman Hunter, wrote a number of youth books, including the popular ĎBookyí and ĎMargaretí series. Hunter finished her motherís last two books posthumously, to good reviews, before focusing her efforts on the darker stories she believes need to be told.
Raviís tale is certainly a dark one, and readers looking for a happy ending are not likely to find satisfaction here. But for those looking for a brutally realistic look at the darkest sides of teen life, and how easily a life can spiral out of control, Raviís Revenge offers some insight into how bad things can happen, even to kids who are truly good at heart.