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The Last Child
by John Hart

Overview -

John Hart's "New York Times" bestselling debut, "The King of Lies," announced the arrival of a major talent. With "Down"" River," he surpassed his earlier success, transcending the barrier between thriller and literature and winning the 2008 Edgar Award for best novel.  Read more...


 
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More About The Last Child by John Hart
 
 
 
Overview

John Hart's "New York Times" bestselling debut, "The King of Lies," announced the arrival of a major talent. With "Down"" River," he surpassed his earlier success, transcending the barrier between thriller and literature and winning the 2008 Edgar Award for best novel. Now, with "The Last Child," he achieves his most significant work to date, an intricate, powerful story of loss, hope, and courage in the face of evil.
Thirteen year-old Johnny Merrimon had the perfect life: a warm home and loving parents; a twin sister, Alyssa, with whom he shared an irreplaceable bond. He knew nothing of loss, until the day Alyssa vanished from the side of a lonely street. Now, a year later, Johnny finds himself isolated and alone, failed by the people he'd been taught since birth to trust. No one else believes that Alyssa is still alive, but Johnny is certain that she is---confident in a way that he can never fully explain.
Determined to find his sister, Johnny risks everything to explore the dark side of his hometown. It is a desperate, terrifying search, but Johnny is not as alone as he might think. Detective Clyde Hunt has never stopped looking for Alyssa either, and he has a soft spot for Johnny. He watches over the boy and tries to keep him safe, but when Johnny uncovers a dangerous lead and vows to follow it, Hunt has no choice but to intervene.
Then a second child goes missing . . .
Undeterred by Hunt's threats or his mother's pleas, Johnny enlists the help of his last friend, and together they plunge into the wild, to a forgotten place with a history of violence that goes back more than a hundred years. There, they meet a giant of a man, an escaped convict on his own tragic quest. What they learn from him will shatter every notion Johnny had about the fate of his sister; it will lead them to another far place, to a truth that will test both boys to the limit.
Traveling the wilderness between innocence and hard wisdom, between hopelessness and faith, "The Last Child" leaves all categories behind and establishes John Hart as a writer of unique power.

 
Details
  • ISBN-13: 0312359322
  • ISBN-10: 0312359322
  • Publisher: Minotaur Books
  • Publish Date: May 2009
  • Page Count: 373

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BookPage Reviews

All-consuming search for a missing twin

Johnny Merrimon, the central figure in John Hart's The Last Child, is a lineal descendant and spiritual soul mate of Huck Finn and Holden Caulfield. Like them, this 13-year-old survivor is resilient, endlessly resourceful and determined to do the right thing in a world that settles for moral shortcuts.

Johnny's self-imposed mission is to find his twin sister, Alyssa, who went missing a year earlier, presumably kidnapped. Her disappearance has shredded his once idyllic family. Now his father is also gone, driven away by guilt—so Johnny's mother supposes—for having failed to pick up Alyssa when he was supposed to. Bereft by this double loss, Johnny's ethereally beautiful mother, Katherine, has fallen into drugs, alcohol and the brutal arms of her former suitor, Ken Holloway, one of the richest men in (mythical) Raven County, North Carolina, where the narrative unfolds.

Police detective Clyde Hunt is just as obsessed as Johnny with finding Alyssa. His single-minded pursuit of the case has already cost him his wife and is threatening to snap his already frayed ties to his son. To complicate matters, he is becoming increasingly attracted to Katherine. Reduced to a summary, the story sounds like a soap opera. But it's not. Here, the interior struggles far outweigh the interpersonal encounters.

Constitutionally a loner, Johnny resorts to every device he can think of—from Christian prayer to Indian rituals to door-to-door canvassing—in his unrelenting search for his sister. At the same time, he's scheming feverishly to protect his mother. He becomes a footloose avenger, a truth-seeking creature of the night, fearful only of failing those he loves. If, like Huck Finn, he risks going to hell for doing his duty, then so be it.

Hart knows how sensitive boys feel and think behind those tough, smirking masks and with what ferocity they cling to their causes. Johnny is innocence and experience in perfect balance.

Edward Morris reviews from Nashville.

 
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