HATE YOU by Graham McNamee


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In this bitterly funny debut, a teenager turns the ""Frankenstein voice"" that is the legacy of her father's brutality from a liability into an asset. Alice hasn't seen her father since the day, seven years ago, that he choked her, but she's reminded of him every time she opens her mouth, or writes a song lyric that she can't sing. Despite an almost unremittingly sarcastic mouth, she enjoys a close relationship (based in part on shared culinary preferences: "" 'Pass the Cool Whip,' 'Where's the brown sugar?' "") with her vulnerable mother, Desiree, and also with Eric, a sweet, equally sarcastic classmate with a neuromuscular disorder that causes his right arm to twitch. Writing in clipped, jagged prose, McNamee creates a distinctive narrator's voice for Alice that skillfully echoes her spoken one, but the story goes more directions than it can comfortably contain, e.g., before Alice can confront her father, who is dying of cancer, Eric introduces her first to his lonely, overweight, nightingale-voiced cousin, then to the singing of Tom Waits, whose ""scratched, pitted, croaking voice"" frees her to try her own. Some of the plotlines remain sketchy, but Alice is a terrific character, one whom readers will follow willingly through moments light and dark.

Pub Date: March 1st, 1999
Page count: 119pp
Publisher: Delacorte