Ellen’s Case

Ellen's CaseEllen’s Case
By Lois Metzger


Read an Excerpt

When sixteen-year-old Ellen Gray finds herself attracted to the lawyer in charge of the malpractice case related to her four-year-old brother’s cerebral palsy, she becomes involved in the trial and gains a new perspective on her own life and options for her future.

From the author:

This sequel to Barry’s Sister takes Ellen Gray through a medical-malpractice trial, when it becomes apparent that her brother’s disabilities were caused by a doctor’s negligence.  Ellen must testify to show the jury that her parents can produce a “normal” child. But the experience is anything but normal for Ellen.

I got the idea for this book while observing my two friends, who are medical-malpractice lawyers, argue their cases in court. Sometimes they put teenagers on the witness stand, which got me thinking—what would that be like, at that age?

Selected as a Books for the Teen Age by the Office of Young Adult Services of The New York Public Library


From The New York Times Sunday Book Review:

Few if any novels for young people revolve around court cases, and none have the zest and impact of Lois Metzger’s captivating tale. Ms. Metzger proved herself to be a master of the young-adult novel with her first book, the sensitive and intelligent “Barry’s Sister,” the story of a young girl, Ellen Gray, coming to terms first with the surprise arrival of a baby brother, then with the fact that little Barry has cerebral palsy. “Ellen’s Case,” equally insightful and resoundingly well written, continues the involving and illuminating tale of the Gray family as it goes public with a very private concern….

Most of the action in this dynamic drama takes place in the courtroom, and Ms. Metzger creates riveting testimony and high suspense. Since Ellen narrates, we’re dependent on her point of view, but Ms. Metzger subtly lets us know that we shouldn’t completely accept Ellen’s passionate interpretation. Indeed, the complex psychology embedded in this sophisticated and poignant tale is quite remarkable. Ms. Metzger makes every word and every emotional nuance count. She not only familiarizes her readers with an often misunderstood disability, but also captures the peculiar mix of tedium and anxiety inherent in legal proceedings, exposes the deep abyss between fantasy and reality, and demonstrates the futility of self-inflicted martyrdom. And she accomplishes all this without being the least bit sentimental.

At one point, Ellen’s father tells her that he believes the only way people learn about themselves is by being open to “teachable moments.” Lois Metzger provides her readers with many such moments, enriching our perception of the marvels of human nature.

From School Library Journal:

Metzger once again demonstrates exceptional skill at building and then peeling back the intricate layers of her characters.

From Booklist:

The trial is the core of the story, and it is riveting: the confrontation between prosecutor and defense, the pubic faces of judge and jurors, the strain of testifying, the medical information, the surprise, the tension. It makes you wonder why there aren’t more YA books about the human drama of the courtroom.

From The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books:

The courtroom drama, a genre not usually found in children’s books, is quite absorbing; Metzger is good at weaving tasty and intriguing bits of courtroom strategy and gossip into the story, and the adversarial nature of such a proceeding makes it naturally suspenseful.

From Notes from the Windowsill:

Long a staple of adult media, the courtroom drama is equally gripping in this fascinating novel for young adults, a sequel to Barry’s Sister

The description of the trial testimony, as seen by Ellen, makes this book impossible to put down, and readers will be breathless by suspense by the time they reach the ending. But perhaps even more intriguing are the insights the book offers into why people would want to pursue a case like this: not for greed, not for revenge, but so that Ellen won’t be trapped being only “Barry’s sister” for the rest of her life.

From The Midwest Book Review:

A fine and detailed story of a girl’s first crush on an older man and her involvement in her handicapped brother’s court case. For the first time Ellen begins to understand that the case is not so much about her brother’s future as her own; for it is she who will someday struggle with his disabilities and care.