BUCK FEVER by Cynthia Chapman Willis


Age Range: 10 - 14
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Joey doesn’t fail to shoot the deer because of “buck fever”—the jitters that often accompany a novice hunter’s first trip—he just plumb doesn’t want to kill it. He’d rather draw it than shoot it, but he knows his father, an umpteenth-generation hunter who’s been waiting for his son’s first Opening Day for 12 years, will never get it. Willis throws a lot at Joey: His father doesn’t understand him, his mother has lost herself in her second career as an art buyer and is traveling more than she’s home, his schoolwork is suffering and he can’t figure out how he can please everyone—his father, his hockey teammates and the artist who lives next door and is dying to mentor him. Joey’s first-person, present-tense narration never feels quite natural, although his panic at trying to resolve his conflicting obligations and desires rings true. While this is ultimately yet another father-and-son-resolve-expectations story, its rural Pennsylvania hunting-community milieu sets it apart—just don’t expect kids who hunt to want to read it, because it’s not for them. (Fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 2009
ISBN: 978-0-312-38297-1
Page count: 240pp
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15th, 2009


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