Tuesday, December 11, 2007

The one where the kid nearly jumps to his death...

Mary Hershey's book has a title that is much too long (... and lands in California), and has a premise I wouldn't normally find appealing. Boy breaks leg so badly it must be amputated when he is young (jumps off ski lift), and blames his father, from who he becomes estranged. His mother needs time alone over the summer to manage her alcholism, so he goes to live with father and new wife in California. New wife is a double amputee. Boy meets girl and wants to impress her so takes up swimming with tough local coach. Spends much time making father angry. Everything works out well in the end.

Somehow, though, this worked. The kid has a reason to be obnoxious to his father, and really, the things he does are mild and rather funny (spends a lot of time eating junk food because father is health nut). I liked Alastair, but I also liked the father and step mother. This will appeal to boys because of the obnoxiousness, but appealed to me because it was a bildungsroman (haven't used that in a while) and I think it's good to see characters grow as people. This is not a goofy book for elementary students, but written with a more mature humor that will appeal to 8th grade boys. THAT'S what we need more of. A few questionable but delicately handled situations, but no language issues. Will definitely buy.

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