Flinn has won awards and accolades for every book she's written, and Fade to Black is sure to follow. Always eager to write about tricky subjects, Flinn doesn't disappoint with her story of a bully and an H.I.V.-positive boy.

Imagine you're 17, a child of immigrants and have contracted a deadly, incurable disease. That's Alex Crusan's reality, but that's not even the worst of it. Everyone knows he's H.I.V.-positive, and many kids don't take kindly to having him in their classes or even sharing the same air as he does—especially Clinton Cole, whose alcoholic father is MIA most of the time. When Alex is attacked in his car and hospitalized, all fingers point to Clinton. He has no alibi for the time of the attack and he admits to hating Alex. Luckily there's a witness. But how credible is a girl with Down syndrome?

Flinn gives us the usual teenage angst but piles on tough issues to make this an intense drama. As a former attorney, the author is interested in witness reliability, and she shows how quickly stories can begin to contradict one another, leaving even witnesses to wonder what they saw. Fade to Black is a quick read that provides a lasting lesson in human decency. (Apr., 192 pp., $16.99)
Reviewed by: 
Taylor Morris