Cover image for Target
Johnson, Kathleen Jeffrie.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
Brookfield, Conn. : Roaring Brook Press, 2003.
Physical Description:
175 pages ; 22 cm
After being brutally raped, Grady finally goes to a new high school where he meets an outgoing African American and several other students who try to help him deal with the horrible secret that is robbing him of his life.
General Note:
"A Deborah Brodie book."
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR UG 4.7 7.0 77538.

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
X Young Adult Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



Why had the men chosen him? Savagely violated by two strangers, sixteen-year-old Grady West retreats into silence. Some hells just can't be shared. Searing and powerful, "Target" shows that people can go through unspeakable things and emerge whole-- and sometimes your friends can save you. Another "provocative tale" ("Booklist") by Kathleen Jeffrie Johnson, author of "The Parallel Universe of Liars."

Author Notes

Kathleen Jeffrie Johnson, a library technician, lives in Rockville, Maryland. Her other books include The Parallel Universe of Liars and A Fast and Brutal Wing.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Gr. 10-12. Since being savagely raped and assaulted by two men, 16-year-old Grady West has lived an exercise in after the night of instead of life: nothing means what it used to. Terrified that his friends will discover what has happened, Grady enrolls at a new school on the other side of the county, where he meets three outsider classmates--Jess, Fred, and Pearl--who will, in various idiosyncratic ways, help him begin a process of healing. He also meets a fourth, Gwendolyn, a wannabe investigative reporter for the school newspaper, who senses that Grady has a secret, which she is determined to expose. It doesn't take keen powers of observation to deduce that Grady is troubled: rendered nearly catatonic by the experience, he remains, even after a number of months, practically speechless and burdened by a host of odd behaviors. In fact, it's hard to believe that, in a world outside the pages of a novel, Grady could really function in a public school. That's just one of the problems with this powerful and provocative but also flawed novel. The subject is certainly important and a valid one for a young adult novel: boys are raped, and the searing, life-changing situation demands attention. Andohnson has created in Grady a highly sympathetic character whose agonies are plausibly rendered in third-person voice. She also writes well, despite an annoyingly heavy-handed use of birds as a metaphor, and she has an obvious talent for pacing and building suspense. It's difficult, however, to account for the vividly detailed descriptions of the attack. Was it necessary to describe the particulars of Grady's rape in such excruciating explicitness? There's also Grady's intense concern over his not fighting back, which seems purposefully set up so he can agonize over whether or not he might be gay--and therefore a target. ohnson acknowledges, late in the book, that, as with rapes of women, most such attacks are exercises in power and domination, not sexually motivated, but her message is confusing. Grady is made to have flashbacks of being sexually molested as a child by the man next door, and it is Fred, the (token?) gay boy in his class, whom Grady finally turns to for help. By the end Grady seems to be developing tender feelings for Pearl, a girl who has problems of her own, but the relationship between rape and sexual orientation that is introduced in the story remains blurred. And what about Gwendolyn andess? Gwendolyn is a caricature antagonist. Give her a mustache, and she would be Snidley Whiplash from the Dudley Doright cartoons. African Americaness is more complex. He's intended as the chief architect of Grady's salvation, but he seems almost as unsympathetic as Gwen: he's a homophobe, a misogynist, and, frankly, something of a racist. That he also happens to be a secret poet is, presumably, meant to show that beneath the angry-young-man demeanor, he's really a sensitive kid. So, here are the questions that remain for readers. What's the relationship between Grady's assault and homosexuality? Which characters deserve the reader's sympathy? And are these characters plausible agents of his recovery? Although these are large--and troubling--questions, some readers will be swept away by the intensity of the book and care enough about Grady to overlook them. Others, alas, . . . won't. --Michael Cart Copyright 2003 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

Grady West, 16, is recovering from a vicious attack in which two men pulled him into a van, then beat and raped him. According to PW, "This painful, explicit tale is as difficult to read as it is worthwhile." Ages 14-up. (Dec.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

Gr 9 Up-Grady, 16, takes a dark and quiet road home after a carefree night with a date. At six-foot-three, he is more surprised than frightened when he is tackled to the ground by two thugs. They beat, gag, and bind him, and, later, rape him. This is a story of recovery; of coexisting with loving parents who are helpless to patch up the pieces; of beginning a different high school to avoid old friends with curious glances. In his new school, Grady is instantly befriended by Jess, a fast-talking black student with an abundance of wit and attitude. Grady, a skin-and-bones shell without appetite, barely a voice, and hardly enough energy to keep on going, is no match for Jess's constant verbal diatribes. Grady, Jess, and another student, Pearl, become an unlikely trio when they are partnered for an art class project. As Grady battles increasing psychological trauma from graphic recall of the rape, Jess and Pearl rally to his side. Riddled with self-blame for not fighting off his attackers, Grady becomes the target of his own paranoia and humiliation. Confusion over his battered sexuality plagues him relentlessly. Jess's prying and funny banter keep tugging him back, while Pearl's quiet acceptance makes him feel a little safer, a little warmer. There are no easy solutions or quick fixes here-but there are sound friendships from credible characters offering a kid a reason to hang on. Miraculously, Jess even spills a bit of wry humor onto Grady's fragile soul.-Alison Follos, North Country School, Lake Placid, NY (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.