Don't Look Behind You
|Don't Look Behind You|
|August 1, 1990|
This story starts out in Norwood, Virginia. It’s a quiet town with an amazing tennis team that the main character April is the star player on. The Corrigan family has a large house and they are pretty wealthy. In April’s room she has a lot of antique furniture and has a crystal in her window that shines rainbows across the room. Eventually her family moves to Grove City, Florida. It’s a very sleepy town with only a few stores that are all around the same block. The family thinks that it’s too hot and they don’t like the new house because it’s old and worn down and they can’t use their money to fix it. April’s room now is tiny and dirty and has cracks in her ceiling that look like spider webs.
April Corrigan is a 17-year-old girl who is an amazing tennis player with long blonde hair and is referred to as "Princess April". She is generally very spoiled and almost always gets what she wants. She is also very stubborn and does not listen to anyone. Then her life later flips upside down and her name is changed to Valerie Weber and she has to get her hair, that she has been growing out for so long, cut sloppily by a hurried agent and so now it is short, choppy and ugly. Her father, Jeff Corrigan, works undercover at an airport and busts a big time drug dealer who sends a hitman after him and his family. He is tall with dark hair and green eyes. He is married to his wife Liz and has two children, April and Bram. Jim Peterson is the family’s first bodyguard. He lives with them for a few months in a hotel, until his arthritis prevents him from pulling his gun and is shot dead by the hitman, Mike Vamp. Mike Vamp is a wanted hitman with completely black eyes who is rumored to follow the scent of blood. Bram is about 6 years old, very hyper, and has one brown eye and one blue one. He is also very stubborn. Liz, their mother, is a writer who upon moving cannot write anymore so she takes up drinking and starts to do nothing but write and fight with her husband.
Jeff Corrigan (who has been secretly been working for the F.B.I.) is tracked for being a witness of a drug smuggling case and he testifies against the Dealer. After he was almost shot, April and her family must relocate and switch identities to keep safe from the hitman. April must leave her perfect life- her boyfriend Steve, her close friends, and her great reputation on the school tennis team. Dreading the move, they travel to Grove City, Florida- a “hick town” with no income for the family besides a film developing business, Zip-Pic, which is a dying business. There she does meet new people, but soon realizes that she cannot seem to keep her cover any longer. She slips up a few times and runs away to her grandma, who got attacked by Mike Vamp who was trying to get information from her. He broke her arm. They come back and on their arrival they are attacked again at their new house but this time they fight him off and he hits his head and passes out in a drainage ditch in front of their house in Grove City and drowns.
The solution to this conflict is that April and her grandmother, Lorelei, outsmart Mike and get out of the closet they were trapped in. They fight him out in the driveway in the pouring rain, so the ditch is full of water. April pushes him and he hits his head on the car and then tumbles into the ditch, passed out. He drowns and they relocate themselves again, which they do without any government aid.
Multiple real places are a key part to the novel. The rural areas in the novel are the outskirts of eastern Virginia and to the south of Washington D.C.. The cities in the novel are Richmond, Petersburg and Williamsburg in Virginia; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; Durham, North Carolina and Grove City and St. Augustine in Florida. Other places in the novel are the Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport and Disneyworld.
The novel won the Tennessee Volunteer State Book Award in 1991 and 1993, the Iowa High School Book Master List in 1992, the Virginia Young Readers Program Award in 1992, the Indiana Young Hoosier Award in 1992, and the Texas Lone Star Reading List in 1991. The novel was nominated for the Washington Evergreen Young Adult Book Award in 1992, the Colorado Blue Spruce Young Adult Book Award in 1991 and 1992, and the Illinois Rebecca Caudill Young Readers Award in 1995.
In an interview with Lois Duncan, the interviewer said that the book was challenged for its immorality, graphic references, and sexual references. Lois Duncan thinks that it may have been a mix-up because there is only one part of the novel where it gets close to a sex scene.
Differences between the novel and the film
- In the novel, April is the central character; she narrates the story from her own POV. In the film, April's dad is the main character.
- In the novel, April's dad is named George Bramwell Corrigan, Senior. In the film, his name is Jeff Corrigan.
- In the novel, April's sweetheart is named Steve. In the movie, his name is Stef.
- In the novel, April and Steve part ways and she finds a new beau whose name is not given, being only referred to as "The Boy." In the movie, April and Stef are reunited
- In the novel, April's mom is a writer of books for children and teens. In the movie, she works at a company.
- None of the FBI Agents from the novel - Max Barber, Tom Geist, Jim Peterson - are mentioned in the film.
- In the novel, the hitman is named Mike Vamp. This name was changed for the film.
Connection with daughter Kaitlyn
The book is based on Lois Duncan's daughter Kaitlyn's personality. Kaitlyn was shot to death shortly after the book was published while riding home from her friend's house. Lois Duncan believes that Don't Look Behind You was a premonition of her daughter's death. Like the main character of the novel, Kaitlyn was chased by a hired gunman that resembled the killer that was on the cover of a paperback version.
- Ellen Snodgrass, Mary (2003). Literary treks: characters on the move. Libraries Unlimited. pp. 33–36. ISBN 978-1-56308-953-4.
- Don't Look Behind You
- Stone, Rosetta. "Interview with Lois Duncan". X-Rated Children's Book Newsletter. Retrieved 2010-05-22.
- "Don't Look Behind You 1999". Reelz Channel. Retrieved 2010-05-21.
- Ellen Snodgrass, Mary (2003). Literary treks: characters on the move. Libraries Unlimited. p. 34. ISBN 978-1-56308-953-4.