HANGING ON TO MAX by Margaret Bechard


Age Range: 12 & up
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A high-school senior copes with the challenges of taking care of a baby while trying to get a diploma and maintain a social life. As she did in If It Doesn’t Kill You (1999)—which was about an adolescent boy dealing with his father’s homosexuality—Bechard again takes on a challenging issue: teenage parenthood. But in a nice change of pace, Bechard’s protagonist is that unusual breed of kid, an unwed father with sole custody of his infant son. Told in the first person by a youngster who has powerful feelings he has trouble expressing, the narrative neatly lays out Sam’s dilemma—how to be a good father without completely sacrificing his dreams for the future. While many young adults in his situation are truly caught between a rock and a hard place, some of the obstacles Sam faces feel manufactured, giving the reader the sense that they could be ameliorated if he would just open his mouth and ask for assistance. The protagonist, who lives at home with his equally inexpressive father, is nicely foiled by two classmates, both teenage mothers, who help round out the situation and demonstrate the various experiences of young parenthood. A disconcerting resolution mars the piece, negating much of the action that came before it and leaving the unprepared reader unsettled and dissatisfied. Even so, the author should be commended for taking on a tricky topic, the demands, delights, and difficulties of being young, single, and a dad. (Fiction. 12+)

Pub Date: May 1st, 2001
ISBN: 0-7613-1579-9
Page count: 160pp
Publisher: Roaring Brook
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15th, 2002


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