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Maisie Willard never thought it was strange that her three best friends were boys. Maisie, Kevin, Chris and Shakes were the four musketeers since pre-school. Their friendship seemed unbreakable. So how can something that happened on the back of a school bus change everything?

Maisie decides to live with her mother in Wisconsin for eighth grade. She needs to get away from her wicked witch stepmother, Joan, even if the price means leaving her best friends. After a year of living with her mother and growing increasingly annoyed by her mother’s whiny boyfriend and his never-ending temper tantrums, Maisie returns home the summer before freshman year of high school. But during the time she has been away, something has happened to Maisie’s body: “I’d gotten a whole new body during my year away. I’d grown breasts and a weird curvy ass…I looked in the mirror and turned around, and by the time I turned back, I had these gigantic mega boobs, the kind movie stars buy. I’d gotten them practically overnight, for free. But I didn’t want them.”

After Maisie returns, things are just “sort of” like before with her friends. The boys are more nervous around her, and then a flirtation of sorts starts with Maisie and Shakes. Events spiral out of control on the bus one day. Someone reports what has been seen, and then it becomes a case of he-said/she-said. Maisie herself is so upset and confused that she starts to wonder what really happened on the back of the bus. And what does it all mean now?

The pressure only intensifies as Maisie’s stepmother takes legal action against the school board. To deal with the incident, Maisie has been seeing a therapist, Dr. Atwood, to whom she tells her story. But even she isn’t quite sure what the exact truth of the situation that day is. And is she ready to reveal everything to a complete stranger?

Though sparse in volume, Francine Proses’s latest effort is gripping, powerful and full of emotion from the first page. The reader will learn about that fateful day only when Maisie can figure that out for herself. The novel deals with the multi-sided view of truth. Masterfully paced and woven with suspense, TOUCH is a both a page-turner and a heartbreaking tale of a friendship gone astray.

Reviewed by Kristi Olson on June 1, 2009

by Francine Prose

  • Publication Date: June 1, 2009
  • Genres: Fiction
  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: HarperTeen
  • ISBN-10: 0061375179
  • ISBN-13: 9780061375170