THE CLOUD CHAMBER by Joyce Maynard


Age Range: 13 - 17
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The school bus drops Nate off one afternoon, and everything has changed: Police cruisers are perched round his house, and an officer is leading Nate’s father into an ambulance. It appears that Nate’s father has attempted to shoot himself, though as his father is incoherent and there is no weapon to be found, the police start to question his mother. Fourteen-year-old Nate finds himself a pariah at school and in their rural town. He’s assigned to another marginalized student, Naomi, for a partner in the Science Fair, and they set out to create a cloud chamber: an experiment in which cosmic dust is made visible. The state finals are near the hospital where his father is incommunicado and Nate hopes to make it there. Maynard’s narrative style is smooth and natural, and her characterization of Nate as an adolescent caught in a social vacuum, his thoughts spiraling desperately towards the cosmos, is apt. Readers drawn to quiet, complex character stories will appreciate this emotionally true offering. (Fiction. 13-17)

Pub Date: June 1st, 2005
ISBN: 0-689-87152-X
Page count: 288pp
Publisher: Anne Schwartz/Atheneum
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15th, 2005