The arrival of a distant relative shakes up the Buras household in new and unexpected ways in this debut middle-grade novel.
With bad teeth and a checkered past, Dwight “Dewey” Tomlinson has been kicked around by life. So when a tip from a telephone psychic convinces him that connecting with eighth-grader Max Buras will clear up his karma, the 44-year-old makes a beeline for Boise, Idaho. Max is initially skeptical of Dewey’s claims. After all, who has ever heard of “bio-harmonic convergence”—Madam Hagar’s mystical explanation for why two people can act as each other’s good luck charms. But soon Max is a believer. Dewey hits a “hot streak” on the video poker machine at his hotel. And before long, the unpopular Max—manager of the school golf team with a body “shaped like a bag of marshmallows”—starts to see his luck turn as well. Even more stunning, after going four years without speaking, Max’s 10-year-old brother, Gabe, begins to talk again. Everything, Max reasons, is tied to Dewey’s arrival. So when the revelation of a chilling incident from Dewey’s past sends the tall man packing, it’s up to Max and his sister, Sadie, to keep Dewey—and the good luck he brings—in their lives. Morfit invests deeply in his characters, and the move pays off. Although the book’s first two chapters are relegated largely to scene-setting, the reader, slowly but surely, gets to know (and love) Max and Dewey. And by the time the plot heats up, it’s impossible not to root for the two protagonists in this powerful coming-of-age tale. Morfit’s treatment of Max expertly encapsulates the adolescent experience. As the novel progresses, the formerly flabby teen ditches his Coke-bottle glasses and starts working out. When a friend’s father remarks on his new physique, Max is conflicted: “For some reason he felt sort of apologetic about it, about not being the same kid who’d been Andy’s best friend, who’d whiled away all those after-school hours playing Ping-Pong and Scrabble.”
Heartfelt and utterly original; a book about an unlikely alliance that should touch readers of all ages.