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by Alex Flinn
Harpercollins Juvenile Books, 2002
Review by Christian Perring, Ph.D. on Jul 6th 2002

Breaking Point

Books for young adults are starting to struggle with the problem of high school violence and murder, following the tragedy of Columbine.  Breaking Point tells the story of Paul Richmond, newly arrived at another high school.  His parents have divorced, his mother is needy and miserable, his father wants nothing to do with him, he doesn’t have enough money to buy fashionable clothes or have his own car, and he is unpopular.  Eventually he is befriended by Charlie Goode and Charlie’s circle of wealthy friends, but at a price.  Paul’s new friend is manipulative and sociopathic, and it is clear that Charlie is only using Paul.  But Paul does not realize this until far too late. 

            As a morality tale, Breaking Point is rather predictable and the characterization is unconvincing.  The themes are important ones – the disintegration of the family, the materialism and cliquishness of high school students, the ease of finding instructions on the Internet on how to build bombs, the hypocrisy of organized religion – but the idea that Paul is unwittingly led into criminal activity by the nefarious Charlie Goode (who, like the girlfriend-beating hero of Flinn’s previous book, Breathing Underwater, has an overbearing and demanding father) fails to ring true.  The story is fast-paced and competently written, but it is somewhat unsatisfying.  The unabridged audiobook is read well by Jason Harris. 

 

© 2002 Christian Perring. First Serial Rights.

Christian Perring, Ph.D., is Chair of the Philosophy Department at Dowling College, Long Island. He is editor of Metapsychology Online Review. His main research is on philosophical issues in psychiatry. He is especially interested in exploring how philosophers can play a greater role in public life, and he is keen to help foster communication between philosophers, mental health professionals, and the general public.