ATHLETIC SHORTS

Six short stories, five of them about characters from Crutcher's novels. The protagonists are involved in sports, but the real theme is growing—grappling with something tough and finding the courage to carry on. For instance, in ``A Brief Moment in the Life of Angus Bethune'' (originally published in Connections, 1989, edited by Don Gallo), huge Angus has been elected Senior Winter Ball King as a joke: he can't dance. Too proud to stay away yet terrified to go, his problems are complicated by his secret love for the elected queen and by the fact that kids have always teased him because both his parents are gay. With wry courage, Angus achieves a triumph that should lighten any reader's spirits. The so-vulnerable Lionel (Stotan!) tries desperately to forgive the boy who caused his parents' and brother's deaths; less successfully, ``Telephone Man'' (The Crazy Horse Electric Game) is slowly loosening the heavy racism placed on him by his beloved father. In ``The Pin,'' Johnny wrestles his father in a can't-win battle neither wants to win—or lose; ``The Other Pin'' is about a wrestler in love with the girl he's supposed to beat at an upcoming match. Finally, ``In the Time I Get,'' Louie Banks (Running Loose) overcomes another kind of prejudice when he befriends a stranger who has AIDS. An involving group of stories, somewhat uneven in focus but all thought-provoking and discussable. (Fiction. 12-15)

Pub Date: Oct. 23, 1991

ISBN: 0-688-10816-4

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 1991

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Certain to provoke controversy and difficult to see as a book for children, who could easily miss the painful point.

THE BOY IN THE STRIPED PAJAMAS

After Hitler appoints Bruno’s father commandant of Auschwitz, Bruno (nine) is unhappy with his new surroundings compared to the luxury of his home in Berlin.

The literal-minded Bruno, with amazingly little political and social awareness, never gains comprehension of the prisoners (all in “striped pajamas”) or the malignant nature of the death camp. He overcomes loneliness and isolation only when he discovers another boy, Shmuel, on the other side of the camp’s fence. For months, the two meet, becoming secret best friends even though they can never play together. Although Bruno’s family corrects him, he childishly calls the camp “Out-With” and the Fuhrer “Fury.” As a literary device, it could be said to be credibly rooted in Bruno’s consistent, guileless characterization, though it’s difficult to believe in reality. The tragic story’s point of view is unique: the corrosive effect of brutality on Nazi family life as seen through the eyes of a naïf. Some will believe that the fable form, in which the illogical may serve the objective of moral instruction, succeeds in Boyne’s narrative; others will believe it was the wrong choice.

Certain to provoke controversy and difficult to see as a book for children, who could easily miss the painful point. (Fiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 12, 2006

ISBN: 0-385-75106-0

Page Count: 224

Publisher: David Fickling/Random

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2006

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The wish-fulfilling title and sun-washed, catalog-beautiful teens on the cover will be enticing for girls looking for a...

THE SUMMER I TURNED PRETTY

Han’s leisurely paced, somewhat somber narrative revisits several beach-house summers in flashback through the eyes of now 15-year-old Isabel, known to all as Belly. 

Belly measures her growing self by these summers and by her lifelong relationship with the older boys, her brother and her mother’s best friend’s two sons. Belly’s dawning awareness of her sexuality and that of the boys is a strong theme, as is the sense of summer as a separate and reflective time and place: Readers get glimpses of kisses on the beach, her best friend’s flirtations during one summer’s visit, a first date. In the background the two mothers renew their friendship each year, and Lauren, Belly’s mother, provides support for her friend—if not, unfortunately, for the children—in Susannah’s losing battle with breast cancer. Besides the mostly off-stage issue of a parent’s severe illness there’s not much here to challenge most readers—driving, beer-drinking, divorce, a moment of surprise at the mothers smoking medicinal pot together. 

The wish-fulfilling title and sun-washed, catalog-beautiful teens on the cover will be enticing for girls looking for a diversion. (Fiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: May 5, 2009

ISBN: 978-1-4169-6823-8

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2009

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