• Clarke Wallace


Ever wonder, when poking through your assortment of books, if this one would be worth a second read? You glance at the cover, turn it over to read the blurb on the back, stare at the author’s photo. Before you realize it, you’re reading the first page.

I plucked one of mine, ISLAND OF NO RETURN, published some time ago, curious to see if it held up as it did back then. Had my writing style changed? Would the story still hold my attention?

It was a YA. Young Adults. Jake Jennings was returning home to Vermont for the summer. When he asked his friends, what’s up? they told him straight out how strange things were happening over on a Lake Champlain island.

Here’s the opening:

“He died.”

“He drowned.”

“He’s still dead,” said Sven Peterssen, who hated arguing with his sister. Jennie was always so damn logical. He shut up. But oh, no. She wouldn’t leave it at that.

“They fished him out of the lake, brother dear. Which means he drowned.”

(No more from the book).

Henry C. Danforth was wearing full SCUBA gear when he died. He turned out to be a marine biologist who made friends with these local kids, or really the other way around. Especially with Jake Jennings, who’d come back from a rough eight months in New York to spend the summer at Mallet’s Bay.

Jake’s buddies convinced him Danforth’s death was no accident. The perpetrators were those on the mysterious Hannibal Island. Not that they could prove it.

I started reading ISLAND OF NO RETURN last Thursday and came back to it Friday morning. I discovered the story held up, even now. Something else. The ‘story’ didn’t talk down to kids. I was convinced ISLAND OF NO RETURN could be read by adults who’d enjoy it as much as anyone.

I particularly liked Jennie, mentioned above, a spunky young woman who took matters in her own hands when a big guy tried to tip over the canoe she and Jake were using to escape. She conked him over the head with her paddle, then pressed on it to keep him under.

Author’s comment: I finished the book with a smile. Happy endings don’t always work; what’s best is one that won’t leave the readers hanging, yet is enough for them to want more.

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