Borderline by Bonnie RozanskiBorderline by Bonnie Rozanski


byBonnie Rozanski

Paperback | May 15, 2007

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Picture Holden Caulfield in 2004: smart but unfocussed, energetic but restless; creative but disorganized, with a smutty mouth. He's mostly unmotivated, really screwing up at school. He detests his autistic younger brother Austin. With his mother obsessed with caring for Austin, and his scientist father immersed in his research, Guy, the twelve-year-old Everyman his name implies, is ignored. `I might as well be the Guy in the moon for all they care,' he observes.

`Okay, class,' Guy's teacher instructs. `All the children who need to see the nurse for Insulin, Ritalin, Flovent, Vanceril, please go now.' Guy, narrating, comments, `Thirteen kids stand up: fat, skinny, hyperactive, asthmatic, all the kids who would maybe die if they didn't get their meds, and all of them rush out the door to the hallway.'

Guy's best friend is Matt: `five inches shorter than I am and maybe thirty pounds heavier, with hair like a poodle,' friends `since we were three years old, when our mothers both dumped us off at this pre-school program at the Y, and neither of us knew what the hell was coming off.' Together, Matt and Guy face the world. At school, there is Sergeant Cassidy the security guard, armed with a stun gun to head off any potential Colombine-in-the-making, and the dreaded Mrs Tartaglia. At Guy's home, there is the little brother who absorbs every bit of his parent's attention, and at Matt's, whose mother left three years ago, there is Matt's father, jolly and rich, who can't seem to stop eating.

Meanwhile, Guy's father seeks to replicate the evolution of the dog from their forebears, wolves, by breeding the tamest wolves to the tamest wolves, generation after generation. To his surprise, after a mere dozen generations, the wolves begin not only to bark like dogs, but to look like dogs, with curly tails and floppy ears. These changes are too rapid to be genetic, Guy's father insists. `We've changed our own environment, and now it's changing us.'

Guy bonds with JX104, a wolf-dog in his father's dog lab. Wolf, as Guy renames him, is one of the dogs who falls between the cracks. He never does became tame enough to breed, and as a final straw, half-chews someone's hand off. Guy's father says they're going to have to put him down. Guy yells, `He's not gonna be this perfect yuppy dog. That's not who Wolf is, and it's not fair killing someone just because he can't be what you want him to be.'

But it's no use. Guy and Matt decide to break Wolf out that night, and to return him to the wilderness. Guy is able to steal a key card to get into the lab, but he can't open the lock to the dog's cage, so they are forced to bring along his brother Austin, a savant at taking things apart. They plan on first returning Austin home, but as they turn onto his street, they find the house ablaze with lights. In the end, three boys and one wolf take a ride in a stolen SUV back to the wilderness.

Bonnie Rozanski currently resides in New Jersey, but has lived all over the United States and Canada. She has degrees from the University of Pennsylvania, Adelphi University (Garden City, Long Island) and the University of Guelph, and worked in both academia and business before deciding to return to her first love, writing. She has wri...
Title:BorderlineFormat:PaperbackDimensions:208 pages, 8.77 × 5.57 × 0.74 inPublished:May 15, 2007Publisher:Porcupine's QuillLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0889842930

ISBN - 13:9780889842939

Appropriate for ages: 9 - 12

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From the Author

For some time I had been interested in reports that obesity, attention deficit disorder and autism were all becoming more prevalent. Autism, in particular, seemed to be suspicious. This was the initial inspiration for Borderline. Assuming that human beings' genetic make-up remains essentially unchanged, then surely the environment must be complicit. Or is it? Then I watched a documentary on the evolution of the dog. Dmitry Belyaev, a 20th century Russian scientist, conducted ingenious studies in which wild foxes were bred over generations. Over time, Belyaev, attempting to replicate the evolution of the dog from the wolf, bred the tamest foxes to the tamest foxes. Amazingly, in only ten to twelve generations, the foxes began not only behaving like dogs but looking like dogs, with floppy ears and curly tails. Clearly, this could not be explained by genetics alone: ten generations of foxes simply is not time enough for a species to evolve. It appeared, as I read further, that Belyaev's results were due to epigenetics: those influences of the genes but beyond the genes. These can include turning gene expression on or off, RNA, regulator genes, and gene-environment interaction. The whole topic fascinated me. We are transforming our own environment and unknowingly changing ourselves in the process. I began to wonder about how to embed all this in a plot, and imagined a family obsessed with curing their autistic son; a desperate mother, a scientist father and an older brother who feels ignored; all set in our present-day world of shopping malls and antibiotics, global air travel, and high tech gismos.

Editorial Reviews

`Bonnie displays a pure grasp of the way kids talk, the veering from cutting remarks to astounded joy, the relentless pursuit of stimulation and impatience with anything they find ``stupid.'' Which are most things, and people. The way they share secrets, make unspoken treaties, and how when things get really tough, they find out, for better or worse, who can be depended on, and learn to forgive, and to let go. There is, familiar to all, an adolescent's near-constant state of embarrassment at having to breathe the same air as their parents. And conversely, there's the competition for affection and attention within a family, and not just with the kids, as individual's needs push and pull them toward and away from each other, of course in the case of Guy's family, exacerbated by his little brother's autism. Much of the emotional punch of this book comes from experiencing along with Guy and his mom and dad the ebb and flow of their relating to Austin, their autistic son.'