A rambling ode to male adolescent angst.
It is the summer before junior year, and oddball outsider Felton Reinstein has hit the puberty jackpot. Suddenly tall, muscular and “stupid fast,” he has been invited by the high-school football coach to work out with the team with the understanding that he may win a position come fall. His sudden popularity is marred by his mother’s equally abrupt bout of depression and his little brother Andrew’s intense anger about it. Felton thinks his mom’s bad mood may have something to do with his age and father’s suicide 10 years ago, but he is too distracted by his new posse and the cute pianist next door, Aleah, to find out. Soon the situation deteriorates to the point where Mom never leaves the house and Andrew burns all his clothes in the yard in order to get her attention. Now Felton is forced to face the long-buried secret of his father’s death if he wants to heal his family. Felton’s manic, repetitive voice and naive, trusting personality stand out in a field of dude lit populated with posturing tough guys and cynical know-it-alls. Add strong secondary characterizations and readers may be able to overcome the tangential storyline and rather perfunctory climax.
A little tightening of the plot screws could have led to this uneven novel being stupid good. (Fiction. 12 & up)