Catherine Ryan Hyde Catherine Ryan Hyde is the author of more than 25 published and forthcoming books, including the bestselling When I found You, Pay It Forward, Don't Let Me Go, and Take Me With You.

           

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Diary of a Witness

Diary of a Witness is a young adult novel released in the Summer of 2009 from Knopf. Here's what's different about it. Or, at least, what feels different to me. It's kind of a "boy book." This is not to say that girls won't enjoy it. But it's about two 14- or 15-year-old boys treading water in the rough seas of high school.

In my own words: 

Will Manson is Ernie's best friend. Actually, he's Ernie's only friend.  He's a nice guy, Ernie.  But he's carrying some extra baggage that makes his social life difficult.  More than a hundred pounds of it, in fact.

Will isn't fat, but he has his own baggage.  He's just moved up from L.A.  His mother just left the family for another man.  He has acne, his ears are too big, and every time he opens his mouth something geeky falls out.  To top it all off, he has to go through life with the name of a famous murderer.

They've just jumped up onto the radar of the jocks.  They've been singled out for torture.  And not much can be done to stop it.

Ernie makes his way through.  But he has a mom who loves him, despite being a bit hysterical.  He has his uncle Max.  Will has a father in jail (his fault), a tragic accident that took the life of his little brother (also his fault) and really no one to turn to.

Except Ernie.

Ernie wants to believe he'll be enough.  But it isn't looking that way.  It's looking like Will is cracking under the pressure.  It's looking more and more like somebody is going to get hurt. 

Click here for a teachers' book guide to Diary of a Witness

What the Reviewers had to say:

Booklist said, "Hyde portrays Ernie, Will and their daily struggles with heartbreaking authenticity. Ernie wrestles between loyalty to his best friend and doing the right thing, and the resulting conflict creates an atmosphere of dread that increases to the dramatic conclusion.  Closing with a hopeful resolution, this timely story is sure to get teens talking." 

Publishers Weekly said, "Hyde (Becoming Chloe) has created sympathetic, fully developed characters in likable Ernie and tortured and somewhat cerebral Will.  The moment of crisis is chillingly believable and will have readers on the edge of their seats."