FAST HANDS by John Pappenheimer


Age Range: 12 - 16
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A coming-of-age story set on an Alaskan fishing boat.

The title is a wordplay on “fast” as “quick” and the nautical use of “fast,” meaning to make secure—and a clever plot summation. Sixteen-year-old Augustus has fast hands. They can play percussion, and they can damage. Their ability to damage has given him a choice: go to juvenile detention or crew on his uncle’s commercial halibut-fishing boat in Alaska. Gus chooses the sea, ignorant of the fishing boat’s 19-hour workday. Eventually he acclimates and becomes proud of doing a man’s work. He also learns more about his scattered family and does some rethinking about a friend he betrayed back home. Gus’ narration is often inconsistent in both tone and storyline and relies heavily on telling rather than showing. The commercial fishing jargon will confuse any readers not completely familiar with that trade. Female characters are simply stereotypes. Gus’ mother cries. The restaurant owner is motherly, and the love interest is a lap-dancer (briefly) who wants to be a singer, knows self-defense and has no problem shedding her clothes for a hot-springs soak with the guys—an adolescent male fantasy if there ever was one.

Fishing, fighting and girls make this a real guy’s-guy story in which a fairly solid plot is marred by overwriting, confusing jargon and one-dimensional female characters. (Fiction. 12-16)

Pub Date: May 1st, 2014
ISBN: 978-1-935347-31-6
Page count: 184pp
Publisher: Epicenter Press
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15th, 2014


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