Kirkus Star


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Klass writes a sort of enriched sports fiction, combining vividly told stories of athletic competition with perceptive explorations of character and social themes. This is his best yet. For most of his 17 years, John Rodgers has been at defiant odds with his powerful, hard-nosed father, Henry, who can't understand how a son of his could prefer track and intellectual pursuits over contact sports and the social life of a jock. Now that Henry is dying of leukemia, John is assaulted by a guilt that's compounded when he discovers a new species of butterfly in the local lumber mill's redwood forest, portending not only a hard future for his small hometown but -- since he's already been beaten up just for subscribing to an ecology magazine -- a bleak personal future as well. Realistically and evenhandedly, the author presents the arguments and confrontations between townsfolk and conservationists through the eyes of a teenager whose courage, intelligence, heart, body -- and, not least, his sense of humor -- are severely tested but prove equal to the occasion. Klass simplifies neither characters nor issues; and whether describing a cloud of butterflies or Bob Beamon's record-shattering broad jump in the '68 Olympics, he writes with skill and authentic feeling. A rich story, capped by a brilliantly crafted, multilayered reconciliation between father and son.

Pub Date: April 1st, 1994
Page count: 224pp
Publisher: Scholastic