by C. Lee McKenzie
C. Lee McKenzie has a background in Linguistics and Inter-Cultural Communication, but these days her greatest passion is writing for young readers. She has published five young adult novels: Sliding on the Edge, The Princess of Las Pulgas, Double Negative, and Sudden Secrets. Not Guilty is her most recent one.
Sometimes she likes to jump into the world of the fantastic and when she does, she writes for the middle-grade reader. Some Very Messy Medieval Magick is the third book in the time-travel adventures of Pete and Weasel, with Alligators Overhead and The Great Time Lock Disaster being the first two. Sign of the Green Dragon, a stand-alone, takes the reader into ancient Chinese dragon myths and a quest for treasure.
When she’s not writing she’s hiking or traveling or practicing yoga or asking a lot of questions about things she still doesn’t understand. You can connect her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and at her Website.
In McKenzie’s riveting latest novel, Not Guilty (2019), high school junior Devon Carlyle is living a nightmare no teenager should face. One day, he is at the top of the food chain in his school, star basketball player, beautiful girlfriend, looking at a scholarship to the school of his choice. Then, his world collapses when he is falsely accused of seriously injuring another student who he’s fought with in the past. Convicted and sent to juvenile hall for five months, he resolves to do his time and then find the real culprit so he can clear his name. He suffers through incarceration, cameras watching his every move, other inmates who try the injure him, and the realization that none of his friends believe he is innocent. When he is finally released, he finds out juvie was the easy part.
This is a richly drawn story of a family whose life is turned upside down for something they didn’t do and can’t fight. It could be dark and depressing but McKenzie makes it uplifting by showing how this everyday boy and his straight-arrow family face the problems, do what they can, and figure out how to survive. The story sounds almost mundane–thousands go through this every year, don’t they–but at about the 15% point, it grabbed me and wouldn’t let go. At first, I didn’t care about a privileged high school basketball star and then I really did. I couldn’t stop reading until I saw how the h*** he would get himself out of this mess.
This is a satisfying read of a real-life story with unexpected highs–and lows. You don’t want to miss it.
Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy, the Rowe-Delamagente thrillers, and the Man vs. Nature saga. She is also the author/editor of over a hundred books on integrating tech into education, adjunct professor of technology in education, blog webmaster, an Amazon Vine Voice, a columnist for NEA Today, and a freelance journalist. Look for her next prehistoric fiction, In the Footsteps of Giants Winter 2020. You can find her tech ed books at her publisher’s website, Structured Learning