Reflected Echo by Teresa Grabs is a Young Adult dystopian novel about the struggle for survival of a young girl, Echo, in a tightly controlled government state. In Bakerton High School, students were assessed by ever-present adult evaluators on their attitudes toward the State by the way they walked and the expressions on their faces. There were so many rules with accompanying negative sanctions that Echo and her friends came to accept that their very existence broke some rule. Therefore, there was nothing to be done but plod forward and accrue as few negative comments as possible.
This State control went far beyond the school. Echo rarely saw her father. He was posted far away from their home and lived at his work site. He was allowed home every few months if he had not collected too many negative points. Echo’s mother reflected the values of State control in her everyday behavior toward Echo, usually one of complete disapproval. She felt compelled to constantly extoll the values of State control while at home. You never knew who was listening.
Echo was not completely undeserving of her mother’s constant disapproval. Echo was a person who could do nothing right. For some reason, Baker High School required that all students be able to jump rope. From primary school through the tenth grade, the benchmark year for a huge Citizenship exam that would determine students’ future lives, Echo could not jump rope. Echo was also not good at Math. In fact, she was incompetent at everything except a relatively unimportant area of study related to soil composition. Contrast her school performance with her younger by several years brother Johnny. He was good at everything and was considered a promising star at the school. Because of his entry into Bakerton High School, the family was able to live in the three-bedroom apartment allocated to families of parents that had students at Bakerton. Echo’s substandard school performance threatened their continued existence in a relatively comfortable home.
Echo studied hard for the tenth grade Citizen Fitness Examination. It would determine her future life occupation. Echo did not feel confident in passing with high marks and getting a desirable occupation assignment. But she felt confident that she would at least pass, felt resigned to an assignment of an occupation that would mean a life of drudgery, and felt that at least she would be able to avoid the category of Enemy of the State. That would mean exile into the wild, uncharted, unsafe area of the Austero Plains, a place without the government controls and safety of Bakerton.
Echo was spectacularly wrong. She was banished with no support even as minimal as food and water. She had her dog, Charlie, but that was because no one else wanted Charlie. She only had the comfort of dreams in which she saw a very different world, one that predated the calamitous disasters that created Bakerton. Once Echo begins her story of survival in the wilderness, the story becomes one that is very inspirational for YA readers. She doesn’t win all her battles and loses some important ones, but the story of her journey is remarkable as her survival skills develop.
And there is a surprise ending. I gave this novel four Amazon stars for its solid storytelling. Reading this should inspire adult readers to read YA literature. Don’t you want to know what your young ones are reading? And this is available on Kindle Unlimited, so financial sacrifice is small. Check out Teresa Grabs website and other writings for quality reading.