Winner of the 2017 Costa Children's Book Award
"A timeless allegory... Conaghan tackles the complexities of war, occupation, and totalitarianism in a direct and accessible way, portraying violence frankly but without sensationalism." - Kirkus Reviews
Fourteen-year-old Charlie Law has lived in Little Town, on the border with Old Country, all his life. He knows the rules: no going out after dark; no drinking; no litter; no fighting. You don't want to get on the wrong side of the people who run Little Town. When he meets Pavel Duda, a refugee from Old Country, the rules start to get broken. Then the bombs come, and the soldiers from Old Country, and Little Town changes forever.
Sometimes, to keep the people you love safe, you have to do bad things. As Little Town's rules crumble, Charlie is sucked into a dangerous game. There's a gun, and a bad man, and his closest friend, and his dearest enemy.
Charlie Law wants to keep everyone happy, even if it kills him. And maybe it will ... But he's got to kill someone else first.
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"A timeless allegory ... Conaghan tackles the complexities of war, occupation, and totalitarianism in a direct and accessible way, portraying violence frankly but without sensationalism." - Kirkus Reviews
"Conaghan presents a compelling situation with no easy answers; it's easy to sympathize with Charlie's moral and ethical dilemmas, and the dichotomy between Old Country and Little Town could fuel provocative discussions." - Publishers Weekly
"This book brings light to communities where teens are struggling under a repressive government or regime pressured by a larger neighboring nation ... Readers will fly through the last portion of the book in one sitting." - School Library Journal
"This accomplished new novel establishes Conaghan as a major talent. It's incredibly powerful and thought-provoking on big issues such as nationalism, war and refugees, and poses some challenging moral questions. It's also brilliantly funny, with characters you will really root for." - Bookseller
"Readers will identify with the teens' struggle to maintain friendships and make hard decisions under great duress in this captivating, redemptive story with many themes for discussion. Immediately engulfs the reader in an elevating sense of pressure that needs to be resolved. Highly Recommended." - School Library Connection
"Unlike dystopian fiction set comfortably in the future, Conaghan's dystopia, with its parallels to the Cold War and contemporary conflicts of ethnic versus political borders, is all too easy to envision today." - The Horn Book Magazine
"Conaghan's sophisticated and cleverly written novel will easily appeal to teen readers interested in dystopian, historical fiction, or war-themed stories." - Booklist
"Deals with differences between people and how they react, the effects of bullying, right and wrong, and how we choose a path we may not be sure is right." - VOYA
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