The Haunted One

Author: Jay Bennett
Reading Level: Young Adult
Number of Pages: 175

Grade 7-12 Paul Barrett, an 18-year-old lifeguard, is haunted by a dead woman: the beautiful, talented ballet dancer whom he loved and who drowned before his eyes. He fears that he might have saved her had he not been zonked out on marijuana that evening on the New Jersey shore. Why the phone calls in the night? Why the quick entrances and exits and the plaintive cries and accusations? Paul is at first convinced that it is all a hoax but then begins to think that it is some sort of cruel punishment for his inexcusable failure to hear the woman's cries for help. Bennett's techniquespare, crisp dialogue; a lack of descriptive passages; mounting suspense; and a very simple plotcontributes to his success with teenagers. But despite its brevity, this story seems almost too long, and the unoriginal ending will be guessed by many readers halfway through. While not among the best of Bennett's thrillers, this one nevertheless will have its admirers, especially among reluctant readers. Robert E. Unsworth, Scarsdale Junior High School, N.Y.  --School Library Journal