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by Neal Shusterman

Published by Simon & Schuster, 2007
335 pages
ISBN: 1416912045

Age 13 and older

An extraordinarily thought-provoking novel is based on a deeply disturbing premise: to end the bloody Heartland War, also know as the Second Civil War and fought over the issue of abortion, a set of constitutional amendments known as The Bill of Life was passed. They protect human life from the time of conception until a child turns thirteen. Between the ages of thirteen and eighteen, however, children may be “retroactively aborted” if parents choose “unwinding,” a process that draws on modern science to harvest every part of the body for transplant into another human being. In this horrifying future, three teens—two determined to escape their fate, and one who has been raised to welcome it as a way to honor God—find themselves thrown together and on the run. Neal Shusterman paints a portrait of a controlled and controlling society where teens are viewed with suspicion, babies are abandoned on doorsteps (by law those that fine them must raise them as their own), and most adults have accepted the unacceptable. There are voices of protest but there is also a government that is amazingly proficient in its ability to deconstruct human life. Shusterman’s chilling narrative draws deft parallels between his imagined time and our society today, extending the polemics of the abortion debate to a disquieting extreme that compromises both the sanctity of life and the right to control one’s own body; illuminating suburban insulation; and highlighting society’s willingness to turn its back on many teens.  © Cooperative Children's Book Center

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