May 8, 2012
What really happened in the forty-first hour?
Crush. Candy. Corpse.
by Sylvia McNicoll
Paradise Manor is depressing - the smells are bad and the residents are old. Sunny would much rather be doing her volunteer hours at Salon Teo, but her teacher won't let her because it's not a charitable cause. But working with the Alzheimer's patients has a surprising effect on Sunny. As she warms to the residents, she begins to see that they don't have much more choice about their lives than she does: what they eat, how they are treated by staff, even what they do for entertainment. So Sunny does what she can to make the residents happy - even if she has to break some rules to do it. She is supported in her decisions by Cole, whose grandmother lives at the manor.
When Cole's grandmother passes away, Sunny finds herself charged with manslaughter. Cole had made a promise to his grandmother about her life…and her death. He had told Sunny about it, but she never agreed to help him. At least that's what she tells herself. As we follow the trial and hear her side of the story, McNicoll leaves it up to the reader to make their own decisions about Sunny's choices.
Sunny's character is flawed but moral - she likes her boyfriend Donovan, but doesn't condone his shoplifting - and is an accurate representation of a teen well on her way to becoming a mature adult. The other characters are also depicted realistically, from the humorless supervisor Mrs. Johnson to the achingly sad and beautiful Alzheimer patients.
A bittersweet, yet thought-provoking novel.