PUBLISHING INFO: Viking Juvenile, 11/1976
REISSUED: 2000, Puffin Books
GENRE: YA Contemporary Suspense
SETTING: Connecticut, USA
MY GRADE: B
FROM PUBLISHER: Sixteen-year-old Gail is living the upper-class suburban life when she begins receiving terrifying phone calls and notes in her locker. And the calls keep coming. When she’s attacked by the town’s golden boy everyone refuses to take action against him and his powerful family. A frightening drama that deals with heavy teen issues and the idea of justice (or lack thereof) from bestselling author Richard Peck.
MY THOUGHTS/SPOILERS: I’d never heard of this book before, not until last year when I watched the 9/1978 CBS made for television movie on Youtube. I finally bought the book and received it a few days ago. It’s only 160 pages long and needed to be at least 100 pages longer.
The book didn’t really seem dated at all. The plotline was almost completely believable. Some of the dialogue from the school’s guidance counselors wasn’t believable, with them not believing her and also some of the comments the police officer made to her.
The notes that Phil sent Gail were explicit but they weren’t detailed in the book.
Near the end there was an incident where a female student was raped and beaten one night and Gail believes Phil did it. No reasons were given for that and no proof was brought forth.
How the film differs from the book: I think in the film they made her seventeen years old. There was no mention of her being on birth control pills. They also changed her last name from Osburne to Osborne. The woman Gail babysat for, her last name was changed from Montgomery to Hirsch. They changed her boyfriend Steve Pastorini’s last name slightly to Pastorinis. She met him in the film but when the book began she’d already been dating him awhile. The movie takes place in California, not Connecticut.
I think Kathleen Beller did a pretty good acting job and didn’t look too old for the part at twenty-two years old. She’s now married to musician/professor Thomas Dolby (She Blinded Me With Science). Her friend Alison’s acting was believable too though she didn’t speak too much. Dennis Quaid, twenty-four at the time, clearly looked too old for the part. Steve was played by Scott Colomby, who was a younger-looking twenty-six at the time.
The part I mentioned earlier where a girl was raped and beaten, in the film they showed a girl getting the same anonymous note saying that she’s being watched. Gail, who’s into photography at school, sets up a hidden camera that’s pointing to that girls locker. It snaps a photo every two seconds. Sure enough, the camera captures Phil putting another note on the same girls locker. The girl reads the note, balls it up and throws it away but there’s no mention of her being raped later. I like that that was expanded on in the movie.
Near the end of the movie Phil beats up Gail in one of the empty rooms at school and is caught for it, but that doesn’t happen at all in the book.
In ways each one was better than the other so I don’t prefer book over movie or vice versa.