Free Radical by Claire Rudolf Murphy

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Luke McHenry loves baseball. After repeated disappointments, he is determined to make the All Star team. Then his mother makes an explosive confession: 31 years ago she was involved in an anti–Vietnam War protest that went horribly wrong, and a student was killed. Mom has been in hiding ever since, but now she is ready to turn herself in. While her whole life in Alaska has been a masquerade, for Luke it is his only reality. Suddenly, everything—from the baseball season to his very identity—is in jeopardy.
As Luke witnesses his mother’s struggle to face up to the mistakes of her youth, he begins to understand his own hopes and fears—and who he really is. Free Radical is both a contemporary coming-of-age story and a moving depiction of a parent’s guilt and need for forgiveness.

About Claire Rudolf Murphy

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Claire Rudolf Murphy is the author of two previous novels and several books of nonfiction. She was inspired to write Free Radical while contemplating her own feelings about the Vietnam War and how teenagers view it today. After spending many years in Alaska, Claire and her family now live in Spokane, Washington. This is her first book for Clarion.
Published March 15, 2002 by Clarion Books. 192 pages
Genres: Young Adult, Sports & Outdoors, Children's Books, Literature & Fiction. Fiction

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She has hidden her own identity, she has hidden the facts of Luke’s identity, and she has hidden from the consequences of one reckless act so many years before.

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Publishers Weekly

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Her storytelling, however, relies frequently on coincidence (e.g., Amy moves to northern California shortly before Luke and his mother go there for her court appearance) and contrivance (Luke speculates, hollowly, on parallels between a raucous game of paintball and military combat).

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