STARRED REVIEW
February 21, 2013

An irresistible urge for the end of things

By Gregory Galloway
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Adam Strand is bored. He thinks that his birth was a mistake and is constantly trying to correct that mistake—by jumping off bridges, drowning himself or taking poison. In total, he's killed himself 39 times, but each time he survives unharmed.

Adam doesn't understand why he keeps coming back, and the people around him don't understand why he keeps trying. Adam's driven by an irresistible urge for something he can't articulate—something that's only satisfied in the moments after each suicide. In the meantime, life goes on around him. His friends take constant votes on what words and actions will be banned in their friendship, and a 10-year-old girl who's wiser than her years turns out to have a problem that perhaps Adam alone can help her solve.

Set in a middle-American small town, The 39 Deaths of Adam Strand is as much Adam's story as the story of the town as a whole. Adults are trapped in dead-end jobs, and teenagers have nothing to do but get drunk at the waterfront. Yet relationships are still built up—and then broken down, and then built up again. Moments of intense emotion still happen, and mentors and role models are still to be found . . . for those willing to look.

Gregory Galloway, winner of the Alex Award for As Simple as Snow, has written a subtly snarky, darkly edgy mood piece that requires a certain suspension of disbelief and a willingness to approach a serious topic from an unusual perspective. But the story delivers an intense and ultimately rewarding experience to the reader willing to enter its world.

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The 39 Deaths of Adam Strand

The 39 Deaths of Adam Strand

By Gregory Galloway
Dutton Children's Books
ISBN 9780525425656

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