BEETHOVEN IN PARADISE
For every child who was ever forced to play sports, a kindred spirit: Martin, 12, the funny, angst-ridden, musically talented hero of O'Connor's first novel. "Paradise" is the name of the South Carolina trailer park where Martin lives with his long-suffering mother, sadistic father, and a peanut gallery of eccentric characters: ultra-shy Wylene, a handkerchief-factory worker who is Martin's closest friend and fellow music-lover; the scrawny, chain-smoking Hazeline, who wants her beloved grandson to stand up to his selfcentered father, Ed, who believes that music is for sissies. Ed bullies the boy for daydreaming and pressures him to play on the Little League team, but he can't smother Martin's interest in a violin that he spies in a secondhand store. Wylene's purchase of the violin enables Martin to demonstrate his real talent and to experience genuine happiness; its destruction, in Ed's hands, induces Martin to take his first steps toward his destiny. Readers will relish this trip down South, and they couldn't ask for a better guide than O'Connor, who captures a young boy's heart and holds it out as a gift.