A nostalgic blend of 1960s culture and enduring family dynamics combine in Fagan’s humorous yarn.
Toronto 11-year-old Norman Fishbein, called “Normy” by his parents and “Wormy” by his domineering older brothers, spends most of his days just trying to survive the cold, cruel realities of being the youngest kid in the family. That is, until one fateful afternoon when the mail arrives and Norman finds he’s won a fortune—$1,000. What will he do with his windfall? He desperately needs a new bike. And his family wants him to consider a new roof for their aging home. His brothers feel outrage that someone as wormy as, well, Wormy, could win a fortune instead of them. Norman’s ultimate decision shocks everyone in his white Jewish family. Fagan delivers a witty, heartfelt character study complete with bullying siblings and sweet first crushes. He even adds the horrible shock of realizing that parents are people, too, and moms sometimes wear bikinis (“Don’t be such a prude,” she tells Norman’s older brother when he complains that her belly button’s showing). Fagan resurrects the emotional resonance of his past, sharing memories from a fateful trip he took with his family back in the mid-’60s.
A wonderful read told with elegant simplicity. (Historical fiction. 10-14)