Three junior high school girls accuse their music teacher of inappropriate actions. The story is told through the eyes of one of the accusers, Claire, who lives in the shadow of a disabled younger brother, and the teacher’s daughter Melody. Interwoven in the story are the problems the three accusers face in their own lives and the work Melody does at a horse farm where she helps disabled children – one of whom turns out to be Claire’s brother.
Reminiscent of Avi's Nothing But the Truth and Joyce Carol Oates's Sexy, this novel frankly expresses how allegations of abuse have lasting repercussions for both victims and guilty parties. Cummings's (Red Kayak; Autumn Journey) story begins when seventh grader Claire and her two "best friends" go to the principal's office to make a report. All three claim to have been touched inappropriately by their music teacher, Mr. Mattero. Immediate action is taken. Mr. Mattero is placed on administrative leave. The girls are interrogated by the police, and classmates split loyalties. Some students feel sympathetic toward the girls, while others mainly band and orchestra members remain loyal to Mr. Mattero. Throughout the investigation which has devastating effects for all characters involved, as well as their families readers will need to read between the lines to see where the truth lies as Mr. Mattero's eighth-grade daughter, Melody, and Claire share their points of view in alternating chapters. Claire remains adamant that she has been molested; Melody is just as resolute in believing that Claire is telling a lie. Suspense builds as disturbing facts about Mr. Mattero's past and Claire's stressful home life with an autistic brother emerge; unexpected twists of fate shed light on well-kept secrets. Riveting and timely, this shocking slice-of-life drama is sure to keep pages turning. Ages 10- up.