Sarah's Stars

Buff M. Schemmer.  Chasing Sunsets
Hardcopys DPS  $12.95  ISBN 0-9735820-6-5  200 pg.
Reviewed by Emma, Age 14

“Come away from the window, Mom,” said Justin. Selma backed away and her son pulled the curtains. The old sofa creaked under her as she let herself down. Justin sat down and reached his preteen arms around her.

It’s not your fault, you know, not your fault at all,” Selma said in a husky whisper.

Justin was silent.

A rock, maybe a brick thumped against the side of the house…

Teenager Justin Baxter lives in the not-so-long-ago world of mistrust and misunderstanding towards AIDS victims, meaning he and his family are forced to move from house to house, city to city, after he is proclaimed HIV-positive. Finally settling in the small, prairie town of Binger, Oklahoma, Justin, his mother, and his two siblings vow to keep his secret. No one must know the truth.

Buff M. Schemmer is the Canadian author behind Chasing Sunsets. He has worked in schools, coached sports, directed theatre, helped children with special needs, and has written screenplays on the side (including this story, which was meant for the big screen until his death in 2006). Schemmer’s other work includes Dregs of Society, a modern-day musical that he co-wrote. I recommend Chasing Sunsets to boys and girls ages 12 to 16.

This novel is lightly written for the most part, though it deals with many deep and controversial topics. Because of this, the mood is sometimes strange and the characters’ actions unexpected. It is easy to see that this novel started out as a screenplay; the shift of the scenes shows you this, and the reader’s window into the minds of the book’s characters is minimal. Overall though, Chasing Sunsets is an interesting and moving must-read, worthy of four stars.

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