Delia loves Double Dutch. And she's good at it. Really good. So good that her team has a chance to win the World Double Dutch Championships this year -- Delia is sure of it. What she is less sure of is her chance of passing the school's state exam, because Delia has been using her success at Double Dutch to mask a secret that could jeopardize her place on the team, and also her future.
Delia's not the only one with a secret. Her potential boyfriend, Randy, has one too -- his dad has been missing for weeks, and Randy hasn't told anyone for fear he'll be put in a foster home. But he is running out of money and getting scared.
The one thing that isn't a secret is that their classmates, the Tolliver twins, are out to cause trouble. With their skull caps, angry demeanors, and hints of violence emanating from even the way they stalk down the school halls, they seem to enjoy intimidating the other kids. But will they cross the line from intimidation to violence?
With consummate skill and an uncanny ability to capture how real kids think, act, and feel, Tears of a Tiger author Sharon M. Draper weaves these three stories tighter and tighter, creating a novel that tingles with suspense and emotion.
Secrets, not all of them credible, abound among the eighth-grade protagonists of this disappointing novel. Delia has managed to hide her inability to read from her parents and teachers, but she doubts she can pass the proficiency test that will enable her to graduate to ninth grade and continue competing in Double Dutch jump rope. Randy, whose mother walked out several years ago, hasn't told anyone that his father, a long-distance truck driver, has been missing for weeks. And when twintornadoes hit the school, it becomes apparent that the Tolliver twins, who dress entirely in black and terrorize their classmates, are actually sensitive fellows behind their intimidating fa ades. Overflowing with rambling conversations and extraneous details, Draper's (Forged by Fire) narrative is often awkward ("The huge gym was filled with crisply ironed T-shirts, frantic practice jumps in the halls and parking lot, and the electric excitement of competition and challenge"). Jump-by-jump descriptions of the Double Dutch championships may rescue this tale for diehard jump-rope fans. Others can skip it. Ages 11-up.