“Banished” Book 1. Delacorte Press, 2010. Hardcover. 293 pp.
I had read this book a couple of years ago but, like many books for which I hadn’t written a summary, I forgot what it was about. With the recent release of its sequel, I headed to the rereading chair to pay the price of my forgetfulness.
Hailey is an outcast at school and home. She’d never known her parents and was raised by her uncaring, sickly, drug dealing, drunken, 4-pack-a-day smoker grandmother. Her only source of love comes from their 4 year old autistic foster child her grandmother took in and abandoned. At school, she is shunned and ranks as low as one could possibly get on the high school social ladder. She is puzzled by the ostracism at school, but accepts it as her due for living in Trashtown, the bad part of town.
Her life changes on the day a student gets injured in gym class. Unable to stop herself, Hailey finds herself healing the young girl by just touching her injury. Fearful of her power, and ignorant of its causes, Hailey is enlightened when her long lost Aunt Prairie comes to town. Prairie is also a Healer, and explains their inherited gift. For years, she’d worked in a lab to learn more about her gift and has just learned she and Hailey are in danger from the Head Scientist, Bryce, who intends to imprison them to raise up an army of zombies he plans to sell to the highest bidder.
As killers invade Hailey’s home to fulfill Bryce’s wishes, the girls almost lose out on their bid for freedom but manage to escape. While on the run, readers are kept on the edge of their seats as Hailey and Prairie claw their way out of tight spot after tight spot in their bids to save themselves from ruthless murderers. The cliffhanger ending made me very glad that the sequel was sitting just a few feet away from me. Students in grades 9-12 will want to join me in enjoying “Banished.”