Almost despite himself, 16-year-old Stan emerges with flying colors from a week of sweet confusion, domestic turmoil and momentous tests of character.
Basketball tryouts loom. Stan struggles with persistent erections—particularly after classmate Janine (correctly, as it turns out, rumored to be a GWOG—“Goes With Other Girls”) asks him to a weekend dance. Worse yet, out of the blue his ne’er-do-well father shows up with Feldon, the child of an affair that caused Stan’s parents to split up five years ago. Despite events that conspire to suggest otherwise—capped by a day in which Stan cuts class and tryouts to care for Feldon, then has a semi-unplanned bedroom rendezvous with Janine that begins with premature ejaculation and ends with his mother walking in—Stan is actually the most responsible member of his household. Moreover, not only is he versed in coping with his high-strung mother and tempestuous little sister (skills that help with troubled Feldon), he is endowed with a mouth and body that usually take over to do or say the right things whenever mental paralysis sets in. When Stan does finally meltdown, help from unexpected quarters brings him through with no permanent damage. The third-person narration is filtered through Stan’s perceptions, and Cumyn demonstrates a great sense of phrasing: “Suddenly the wall of sound collapsed into rubble and everyone was clapping.”
The comedy and drama are both mild, but the two eminently likable teens at the center of it look capable of keeping heads and hearts in balance in a world subject to sudden tilts. (Fiction. 13-16)