Cover image for Fault line
Fault line
Tashjian, Janet.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Henry Holt, 2003.
Physical Description:
248 pages ; 22 cm
When seventeen-year-old Becky Martin, an aspiring comic, meets Kip Costello, she is caught in a mentally and physically abusive relationship.
Reading Level:
750 Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR UG 5.1 6.0 73386.

Reading Counts RC High School 6.7 11 Quiz: 34095 Guided reading level: NR.
Electronic Access:
Publisher description
Format :


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

On Order



A hard-hitting novel that breaks open the gritty world of teen relationship abuse, by the author of The Gospel According to Larry

"Unlike Abby, I hadn't had a boyfriend since Peter last year, and even that was stretching the definition of boyfriend way past anything Webster would recognize. I had better luck holding the attention of a roomful of people in a comedy club than a guy-I couldn't decide if that was good or just plain pathetic."

Seventeen-year-old Becky Martin-smart, funny, ambitious-aspires to be a stand-up comic. While setting out to make her goal a reality, she meets Kip Costello, a rising star in the San Francisco comedy-club scene. And what could be better than an intense boyfriend who cares about every detail of her life? But Becky soon discovers a darker side to Kip, where emotional and physical abuse grow hand-in-hand. As the relationship goes from loving to controlling, Becky must find the courage to get help before it's too late.

In this powerful novel, Janet Tashjian tackles the difficult and complex subject of teen relationship abuse from the viewpoints of both the victim and the perpetrator, showing that there are no easy answers for either-but many brave survivors.

Author Notes

Janet Tashjian is the author of acclaimed books for young adults, including The Gospel According to Larry , Vote for Larry , Multiple Choice and My Life as a Book . Disney adapted Tru Confessions into a television movie starring Clara Bryant and Shia LaBeouf. Tashjian studied at the University of Rhode Island and Emerson College. She lives in Needham, Massachusetts, with her family.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Gr. 8-12. Tashjian, who made a splash with The Gospel According to Larry (2002), goes high concept once more, this time recounting the story of 17-year-old Becky, an aspiring comic. Becky findsip at the clubs, where he is also looking for laughs. At first he seems to be the ideal boyfriend. Soon, however, he's pulling her hair and throwing her down. Tashjian is such a strong writer that this comedy-tragedy almost works, but certain things never ring true.ip's background in an abusive family makes it possible that he has similar tendencies, but he never really seems the type. Perhaps this is because he keeps a diary (though he writes on paper towels) and comes across as too insightful and earnest. That Becky takes the abuse for a time, breaks up withip, and then is sucked back in seems more plausible. It's Becky's career choice that seems most unlikely. She's hardworking, but certainly not amusing enough to land a big MTV tour. Whatever its flaws, this will still garner plenty of readers, who will be taken with the story of a good boyfriend who goes bad. --Ilene Cooper Copyright 2003 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

Tashjian (The Gospel According to Larry) undertakes the issue of relationship abuse with mixed results in this novel narrated by a 17-year-0ld stand-up comic in San Francisco. When Becky meets Kip (who write his bits on paper towels) at a comedy club at which they are both performing, she is instantly attracted to him. They quickly become inseparable and Becky becomes "someone whose conversation was sprinkled with `My boyfriend and I did this' and `My boyfriend and I did that.' " But Kip's constant attention borders on obsessive, and he is controlling of her hair, her clothes, her time-even her comedy routines. He also bullies her physically, and the abuse continues even after Becky begins to see the situation for what it is. Becky's growing awareness that her relationship isn't "intense" but, instead, unhealthy is developed well; readers will appreciate that Kip isn't completely demonized. The comedy angle provides a compelling backdrop; not only does it nicely counterbalance the book's weighty themes, but readers learn a lot about Becky through her perseverance and her routines. Unfortunately, the narrative at times swerves into exposition ("It seemed like my relationship with Kip was fueling something negative and bitter inside me"), and Kip's occasional entries (under the head "from the Bounty Dialogues of Kip Costello") feel intrusive. These drawbacks plus a few overly quirky details (e.g., Becky begins carrying stuffed creatures around in her bag), undercut the novel's impact. Ages 14-17. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

Gr 8 Up-Becky seems to have it all-she's moderately successful in her forays on the stages of local open mike night improv clubs, she has a loving family, and the best friend a 17-year-old could want. But her life becomes exponentially better when she meets the perfect yang for her yin, Kip Costello, a handsome, confident senior who seems to pull off his comedy routine without a sweat. The two are soon inseparable, leaving Becky little time for polishing her routines, for her part-time jobs and schoolwork, and, most importantly, for her family and friends. The balancing act gets even more difficult when she finds she must weigh every word so as not to spark Kip's anger. The second time he hurts her, Becky ends up in the hospital and Kip ends up in handcuffs. Readers will suspect his problem long before Becky does, but Tashjian allows readers to feel Becky's overpowering happiness and blindness to Kip's faults as they empathize with his overwhelming fear of losing control. Other well-written titles on dating abuse include Sarah Dessen's Dreamland (Viking, 2000) and Alex Flinn's Breathing Underwater (HarperCollins, 2001).-Susan Riley, Mount Kisco Public Library, NY (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



Fault Line By Janet Tashjian Henry Holt & Company ISBN: 9780805072006 Fault Line Take my life ... please. L aughter is one of the only things in life you can count on to bail you out of anything. Even when you're grief-stricken, shocked, or petrified, laughter can bring you back to that place deep inside that knows there's life beyond your pain. I remember the day I learned this in my bones: my uncle Danny had just died, and my mother had spent most of the morning sobbing at the kitchen table. I was maybe four at the time, feeling more helpless than usual. My father had brought up some extra chairs from the basement for all the relatives who would be coming in from out of town. I didn't notice when I sat on one that it was missing its cane seat. PLOP--I went right through the frame of the chair onto the floor. I didn't cry; I grinned--the shock of the fall was a welcome surprise from all the sadness. My mother burst into laughter at the sight of her little girl sprawled on the rug, smiling. Which of course made me fall through the chair again. And again. It was as if I hadwaved a magic wand. Before my very eyes, she was transformed from a broken-hearted woman back into good old Mom. Because of my actions, because of me. Humor was something thunderous from the heavens, with a power to change things in an instant. Of course, bottling something as formidable as lightning is a tricky thing. Trickier still to do it night after night. Most of the time when I'm onstage, I feel like an alchemist: mixing a little bit of this story, a slice of that detail to come up with a fresh and humorous aha for the crowd to enjoy. But sometimes you fall flat, with a joke so inert you want to hang your coat on it. Those nights, it's back to the drawing board, pure and simple. Here's what I want more than anything: not to headline the Improv, not to join the cast of SNL. (Okay, you nailed me. OF COURSE I WANT THOSE THINGS. I'd be lying if I said I didn't.) But more than those--much more--I want to learn how to trust my instincts. It's the part of comedy I haven't gotten a handle on yet, although I work on those skills all the time. Where I intuitively come up with some thought on the spot that binds me and the audience together for a brief moment--I get goose bumps just thinking about it. During each performance, there's some connection with the audience, but I'm talking about the cathartic,spontaneous kind. The search for that link keeps me writing jokes, keeps me auditioning, keeps me hoping lightning can strike. I'm like Ben Franklin in a storm, holding a kite, a key, and ajar. Waiting to connect. Copyright © 2003 by Janet Tashjian Excerpted from Fault Line by Janet Tashjian All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher. Excerpted from Fault Line by Janet Tashjian All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.