HOW EVAN BROKE HIS HEAD AND OTHER SECRETS by Garth Stein

HOW EVAN BROKE HIS HEAD AND OTHER SECRETS

KIRKUS REVIEW

Here’s what happens when an epileptic rock musician tries his hand at single parenting.

Evan Wallace is the son of a wealthy Seattle heart surgeon. When he was 12, he chivalrously substituted for his kid brother in a game of chicken and was hit by a car; his injuries resulted in epilepsy. At 17, his girlfriend, Tracy, became pregnant, had their baby, but then left town with her family, freezing Evan out. He went on to become a guitarist, with one big hit. Now, as the story opens, Evan is 31, Tracy is dead from a car accident, and he’s attending her funeral in Walla Walla, an uninvited guest who sees his son, Dean, for the first time and introduces himself as his father. Then, wham! Tracy’s abusive father assaults his wife—who knows why—and charges toward Dean. Evan drives his son to safety in Seattle, and Dean reacts like any young teenager with a dead mother and a father who’s belatedly recognized his existence: He’s curious, angry, bitter and as changeable as a spring day. Evan is no role model. Though prone to seizures, he won’t level with Dean about his condition and continues to drive (against medical advice). Luckily, there’s an adult around, the legendary sound engineer Mica Morrison. She’s part black, part Japanese, smart, gorgeous and available, way too good for the thoroughly confused Evan, though inexplicably she’s all over him. She sparks up Dean, too, while offering Evan sage advice on handling his son. Evan, revealingly, thinks of Mica and Dean as his “two new toys,” and he steadily loses reader sympathy as he refuses Mica’s help and that of his own parents. He has a seizure while driving, then checks himself out of the hospital before an operation for a shattered collarbone. His last-minute epiphany, that he has an emotional age of 14, is something the reader had noticed long before.

An unconvincing second outing (after Raven Stole the Moon, 1998).

Pub Date: April 1st, 2005
ISBN: 1-56947-390-0
Page count: 368pp
Publisher: Soho
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15th, 2005




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