Olive Peart certainly knows her teenagers, and she knows the segregated high school world of cliques and misunderstandings. Linked tells the tale of two teens, one black, one white, whose lives are oddly similar despite their obvious differences. Unfortunately for them (or perhaps fortunately) their lives are also linked. When family problems stretch relationships with those they love to breaking point, this curious link between two boys who’ve never even met grows suddenly strong.
The author handles the curious relationships formed when two boys switch bodies in a fun, relatively convincing, and surprisingly intricate style. Each can feel the others’ pain. Both feel betrayal. And each views his neighbor’s world through a mixture of pre-conceived ideas and the fresh eyes needed to shed light.
“I don’t want to be black,” says one. “I don’t want to be white.” With true teenage flexibility, they forge ahead and find their worlds not so different; their needs and desires almost the same.
Resolution comes when both boys learn to respect each others’ advice. Then black and white adults come to their families’ aid and show themselves in shades of pre-conceived prejudice too. The boys are left to guide and build on what they’ve learned.
Linked is a fast-moving story. There’s no long lingering thoughts and diatribes. But the thoughts that the tale inspires linger long after the telling. I’m grateful to the DeMarche Publishing for letting me read this, a fun teenage novel, with a neat mix of action, science fiction and social science, and some wise lessons to learn.