After Brent kills a girl in a mistaken suicide attempt, he is sentenced to place whirligigs in the four corners of the US in order to honor her. Brent is a spoiled teen whose parents want to figure out his problems for him, but he decides to head out on a road trip to fulfill his mission. Along the way, he learns self-reliance, his values, and how to forgive himself and others.
Fleischman grows Brent beautifully into a man who is shaped by the actions he's taken. I often like to think in terms of "sliding doors" (like the Gwyneth Paltrow movie), where would Brent be without this tragedy? Definitely a worse person, drifting angrily throught life. I hope my students are able to look past the cover, which definitely won't appeal to them, and enjoy this story. I know I will be pushing it hard to the ninth graders who are making big decisions right now.
Teaches about consequences without being preachy