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Groundwood Books


Written by James Heneghan

For kids 10 - 14 years old | Published March 15, 2007 | ISBN 9780888997043

Cover of Payback

Regular price $9.95 CAD

184 pages | 7 in × 5 in
Print Format

Also Available as an Ebook

About this book


James Heneghan

Thirteen-year-old Charley Callaghan is coping with some difficult changes. His family has recently moved to Vancouver from Ireland, and his mother has died of cancer. Now he is desperately trying to fit in - in a new school, a new city, a new country - while holding a part-time job and keeping an eye on his little sister, Annie. Charley’s red hair and Irish accent at first make him a target of the class bullies, but he is tough enough - just - to keep them at bay.

So it is almost a relief to him when the bullies find a new target, Benny Mason. Charley keeps hoping that Benny will defend himself, but he fails to intervene when the bullying worsens. When Benny commits suicide, Charley is overcome with remorse and guilt. He visits Benny’s single mom, Joanna, but instead of confessing, finds himself trying to make amends by doing chores, running errands and befriending Benny’s little brother. Can Charley find atonement for failing to act? James Heneghan’s trademark narrative drive, vivid characters and strong social message make this a striking study of loss and renewal.

About the Author

James Heneghan

James Heneghan is an award-winning author who was raised in Ireland and in Liverpool, England, where he worked as a policeman. He lives in North Vancouver, British Columbia. Visit James Heneghan's website:

Awards and Praise
This is a startlingly poignant novel. Charley's compelling, straightforward voice rings true and builds trust in his audience by exposing his most wracking emotions...Readers will find a character or situation to identify with and will admire the means by which Charley achieves some peace of mind.
  • Commended CCBC Best Books for Kids & Teens 2008, 2008
  • Commended Capitol Choices: Noteworthy Titles for Children and Teens, 2007
  • Commended OLA Best Bets - Reading for Young Adults (Fiction), 2007
  • Long-listed ALA Best Books for Young Adults, 2008