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Whelan's novel about 16-year-old Ernest Hemingway uses the circumstances and background of Hemingway's Michigan summers but doesn't reflect Hemingway's sensibility and, except for nicely portraying the character's boyish boasting and callow attention to proving himself, doesn't show any interest in how these incidents and family relationships foreshadow or contribute to later patterns. The story has Ernie camping on a lone island (his father's property) near the family cottage, and discovering that someone has trashed his camp. He thinks it's the sheriff's weasely son, but it turns out to be Mr. Lacour, father of Ernie's half-Indian friends Ted and Nina, who is poaching deer there with two other men. Meanwhile, Nina is hired to help Mrs. Hemingway, and Ernie, who has a crush on her, saves her life during a night fishing expedition. Later Ernie and his father save Mrs. Lacour and her two small children during a forest fire. In return, Mr. Lacour saves Ernie from his unsavory companions when the boy comes upon the poachers in action. Dr. Hemingway, too, saves Nina from a terrible home by arranging for her to board at an Indian school--but not, as Ernie has hoped and promised, by taking her back with them to Oak Park. With a blend of adolescent challenge, puppy love, and local and period color, this is in itself a respectable made-for-Y As novel. However, any expectations aroused by the Hemingway connection will be dampened by its relative banality.

Pub Date: April 24th, 1981
Publisher: Lippincott