LEADING THE CHEERS by Justin Cartwright


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Indians past and present, a disaffected Englishman, and a high-school reunion in Michigan are the unlikely parameters of this quietly comic, intensely human story, the Whitbread-winning latest from the ever-resourceful Cartwright (In Every Face I Meet, 1995, etc.). Footloose in London after being dropped by his long-term live-in and bought out by the new Japanese owners of his ad agency, Dan Silas is far from fancy-free, but new possibilities beckon in an invitation to be the guest of honor at the 30th reunion of his Michigan high school class. Although he left a few weeks after graduation, when his auto exec father was transferred back to England, and hasn’t stayed in touch, those he left behind readily remember him. Cheerleader Gloria hasn’t forgotten their first encounter in Jefferson’s bed at Monticello on their senior class trip, while his best friend Gary, the Harvard-bound brain, still regards him as a friend. But life hasn’t treated either of them kindly: Dan returns to Ford country to learn that Gloria’s daughter—the result of their Jeffersonian coupling, she claims—was the victim of a serial killer a couple of years ago, and that Gary, now Pale Eagle, believes he’s the reincarnation of an early 19th-century boy captive turned Indian visionary and has been in and out of mental institutions since he broke down at Harvard. At first Dan is a willing part of this parade of shattered lives, connecting him as it does to his youth and innocence, but when Gloria asks him to visit the killer in prison, the horror of it leaves him ready to go home. Still, when Gary also makes a request, Dan agrees, thinking it might help his friend’s recovery—and never suspecting that the result will have a lasting impact on him as well. Alive to nuances in the most casual circumstances, willfully eccentric, and charmingly resonant regarding life’s quirks on both sides of the Atlantic: a tale full of subtle surprises.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1999
ISBN: 0-7867-0658-9
Page count: 256pp
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1st, 1999


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