Reviewed by Rachael Stein (age 15) for Reader Views (7/08)
Time stops for Kyle at 10:46 on October 8. It was when his best friend Jason dies of a gunshot wound, delivered by Kyle. But Kyle can’t remember what happened that day in the shed that the best friends found the gun; he doesn’t know if he pulled the trigger on purpose. So time stops. Kyle finds himself stuck in the moment, trying to remember exactly what happened and if he really is to blame. He experiences numerous ups and downs in his grief as he tries to deal with what he’s done to his best friend. He faces new enemies, including himself, but finds allies in unexpected places. “Freeze Frame” is an amazingly well-written story of a boy struggling to come to terms with what he’s done and make peace with himself.
I must begin by saying that I was incredibly impressed when I realized this was Ayarbe’s first novel; it was so wonderfully written. I love how Ayarbe explores Kyle’s mind through the course of the story and how Kyle really has to grapple with everything gone wrong in his life stemming from the death of his best friend. It’s just so realistic and emotional. You get to know so much about Kyle through his dialogue, interactions with the other characters, his memories of Jason, and his love of movies. I really liked how filmography is incorporated in Kyle’s life, and it made me so glad, or at least relieved, that moviemaking helped get Kyle’s life back to semi-normal.
Death is always a difficult topic to write about, and I have to say that Ayarbe does a great job in “Freeze Frame.” I have to rank it high among other books on this subject, along with “The Day I Killed James” by Catherine Ryan Hyde and “Saving Zoë” by Alyson Noël. Readers who loved those novels will like “Freeze Frame” as well.
“Freeze Frame” is not a high-action story. It’s an emotional journey that distinguishes itself through its extensive characterization and its exploration of the human mind. It’s about learning to deal with what you’ve done and making peace with it. “Freeze Frame” is such a beautiful although extremely sad story. I recommend it for anyone looking for a though-provoking and meaningful story. I look forward to reading more novels from Heidi Ayarbe as well.