Books by Alden R. Carter

WALKAWAY by Alden R. Carter
FAMILY AND GROWING UP
Released: Oct. 15, 2008

"Sometimes I think I've been waiting for that crash my whole life," Andy muses when his drunken father nearly crushes him with the family car. The moment sums up 15-year-old Andy's life with his dysfunctional family. When his father is involved in another accident, he pressures fledgling driver Andy to take responsibility, heightening his son's mental anguish. Having heard of the Aboriginal practice of a walkabout, Andy chooses to pit himself against the Wisconsin wilderness, calling his journey a walkaway—a walkabout with purpose. Methodically, Carter reveals that Andy became catatonic after an earlier episode with his father and how, alone and unmediated, his behavior becomes every bit as aberrant as his father's binges, in a realistic depiction of the complicated co-dependent relationship between alcoholic father and child. Despite the contemporary setting, occasionally stilted dialogue and overly detailed descriptive passages make the novel feel dated. However, the interactions between Andy and his addicted father are achingly authentic, providing a painful yet hopeful glimpse into the volatile life of an addict and his son. (Fiction. 12 & up)Read full book review >
FICTION
Released: June 15, 2006

It isn't a sports story, nor romance. Instead, 14 short stories reveal the little lessons in life learned by small-town Wisconsin high-school kids—jocks and nerds, pretty and plain, smart and dumb. While football provides a motif, Carter's more common theme is standing up for the little guy. These kids are good people, mostly, who may not want to help some nerdy or retarded kid, but do it anyway. While each story stands alone, they progress in time and return to the same characters often, allowing readers to see them from different perspectives while avoiding stereotypes. A full portrait of Argyle High School emerges, a place where the biggest, dumbest jocks, the abused, the popular, the reclusive, or retarded kids can learn to shine brightly. For reluctant readers or advanced, funny, heartwarming, lovely stuff. (Fiction. YA)Read full book review >
BRIGHT STARRY BANNER by Alden R. Carter
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: March 1, 2004

"Buffs will love it; the audience could go wider."
Veteran YA author Carter's first adult title is the fascinating story of a ferocious three-day battle, among the bloodiest ever fought on US soil. No, not Gettysburg. Read full book review >
STRETCHING OURSELVES by Alden R. Carter
CHILDREN'S
Released: April 1, 2000

Another outstanding health-related title by the author of I'm Tougher Than Asthma (not reviewed). Here the author explores the daily routines and challenges of three appealing school-age children with cerebral palsy. Emily, Nic, and Tanner, ach speak with a clear, personal voice. Engaging color photographs and the concise text capture the courage and a positive spirit of each of the children "working hard at simple things." The book begins with an introduction written by Dr. Rebecca Campbell, who describes the three most common types of CP: spasticity (extreme stiffness of muscles and tendons); choreoathetosis (uncontrolled flinging) and hypotonia (floppiness)—and discusses current research on the causes and management of cerebral palsy. Sources of information are provided, including organizations, Web sites, magazines, and books. Emily has the most common type of CP, stiffness of tendons and muscles. As her father helps her exercise, she growls, "Sassafras!" "Rhubarb!" It hurts to stretch, but Emily says it helps her move better. Other photographs show her with her physical therapist, at play with her sister, and greeting friends at school. Nic spends most of his time in a wheelchair. He is shown practicing simple words with his speech therapist, communicating through his laptop computer, riding the school bus, bowling from his wheelchair, and struggling with his walker. Tanner, the least affected by CP, has a slight limp and weakness in one arm. It doesn't stop him from sharing in class or playing football with his brother. Emily concludes with a message to all kids: "Sometimes people are scared or shy because we move or talk funny. But you don't have to be. We like the same things you like." An important book for sharing. (Nonfiction. 8-10)Read full book review >
BULL CATCHER by Alden R. Carter
FICTION
Released: May 1, 1997

The rise of Neil ``Bull'' Larsen, from fledgling freshman ballplayer to starting catcher on his senior championship team, is captured against a background of adolescent love, sweaty afternoons on the baseball diamond, and nights of summer-camp fun: in other words, a soap opera for pre-teen boys and a fantasy for budding baseball players. Bull is a burly guy who can't clear the bases as fast as he'd like, but his smarts, wry sense of humor, and commendable devotion quickly dispel the dumb-jock stereotype. As Bull recounts for a senior project, baseball is all that he and his best friend, Jeff Hanson, ever think about. Carter (Between a Rock and a Hard Place, 1995, etc.) packs his narrative with action on the field and also shows the young athletes off-season: lifting weights, running sprints, and dreaming about spring training. Off the field, Bull and Jeff bridge cultural differences when they transform a Vietnamese transfer student into a star pitcher; moon over pretty, unattainable girls; and help their teammate Billy escape from an abusive father. At the end of senior year, Bull is unchanged by Billy's accidental death, his break-up with a girlfriend, and the realization that he will never play pro ball. In fact, the story ends without any sign that he's going to take even tentative steps toward maturity. Good as far as it goes, but incomplete. (Fiction. 12+) Read full book review >
BETWEEN A ROCK AND A HARD PLACE by Alden R. Carter
ADVENTURE
Released: Nov. 1, 1995

A week-long canoe trip quickly becomes an all-out struggle for survival for two teenagers, one with diabetes. Mark and his cousin Randy barely know how to paddle a canoe when their fathers send them into the wilderness on an outing that is a family tradition. Overweight, underachieving Mark has scouting experience, diabetic Randy not even that. They begin to enjoy themselves, though- -admiring the scenery, catching some fish—until a bear eats all their food and damages Randy's blood tester. The trip cut short, they incautiously skip a portage, hit heavy rapids, and lose the canoe, map, insulin, and nearly their lives. The first half of this adventure story is talky, as the two banter and bond. Once afoot, though, conversation dies as Randy's condition deteriorates; the last section is a heroic tale of endurance, made all the more harrowing by Mark's matter-of-fact narration. Carter (Dogwolf, 1994, etc.) wraps the story up with conventional, artificial neatness, but his characters display a winning mixture of semicompetence and stubborn courage. (Fiction. 12-15) Read full book review >
ROBODAD by Alden R. Carter
Released: Nov. 1, 1990

A brain aneurism has left Sharon's father disastrously altered, incapable of loving or showing love for his family and prone to sudden blackouts that make his former skills—driving a car, hunting—out of the question. Sharon also faces the usual adjustments to ninth grade, like discovering that her beautiful best friend is more advanced at handling boys than she is. Sharon and her family face other adjustments as well: Sharon's mother, seeking comfort, is poised on the verge of an affair, while her father exhibits a childlike curiosity about his daughter's changing body as he tries to make sense of his condition. Carter's portrait of a family functioning in the face of tremendous difficulties is unpredictable, even startling: at one point, Sharon is ready to sleep with her father if it will restore him to the way he was "before." Sadly, she recognizes that such a transformation is impossible. Undistinguished writing, but thought-provoking for readers who—like Sharon—are mature enough to think rationally about the unusual circumstances here. Read full book review >