Zach’s Lie by Roland Smith – Review by Kathy M. Burnette

zach's lie
Smith, Roland. Zach’s Lie. Disney-Hyperion, 2003. 211p. 978078681440.
Genre: Mixed Genre -Mystery and Adventure

Cover Appeal: Those eyes look scared. The lines give the cover a suspense-filled edge.
Jack and his family are threatened by some thugs in the middle of the night.  The men drag Jack, his sister Joanne, and his mom from their beds. They tell his mom to say into the phone: “If you talk, they will kill us.” and before they leave they give one more warning – tell anyone what happened tonight and your family dies.
Suddenly the Osbornes are thrust into the WITSEC – The Witness Security Program – leaving behind everything and everyone they know.  Jack Osborne, now known as Zach Granger, can’t believe his father would have put the family in such danger.
When Zach starts over at the new middle school, he is happy to find two new friends, Catalin Cristobal and Sam Sebesta. Catalin introduces Zach to Basque food and traditions while Sam helps him work out his anger in a positive way. Sadly, Zach also makes an enemy in the form Peter Short.
During this time Zach is having a hard time fitting in and his mother and sister, who are involved in activities that keep them busy and happy. So they seem to have forgotten all about why they are there.

Zach’s story is told in journal format. We get the present day action alternating with Zach’s thoughts written in his journal. Smith uses two typefaces to clue readers in to the change, all of Zach’s thoughts are in italics. This is one of my go to books for students who tell me they don’t like to read. There is just enough action, combined with the two viewpoints, that keeps them interested without being overwhelmed. Make sure you have Peak by Roland Smith at the ready because they will surely come back for more!


Kathy M. Burnette is a middle school (grades 6 – 8) librarian in Granger, IN.  She tweets as @thebrainlair and blogs at The Brain Lair.