MELONHEAD by Michael de Guzman

MELONHEAD

Age Range: 11 - 13
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KIRKUS REVIEW

A 12-year-old takes a long bus trip to self-discovery in this wry, winning debut. Being shuttled between a pair of divorced, left-coast loser parents, Sidney T. Mellon Jr.—inevitably dubbed “Melonhead” by peers for his outsized noggin—feels like a permanent guest, but when his mother’s abusive husband announces the horrifying intention to adopt him, Sidney scrapes together the cash to buy an L.A.–to–New York bus ticket, and hares off. Along the way, he meets Moses Longfellow, a Jewish Navajo centenarian, Mona Lipp, a kindly, one-legged barfly, and other not-quite-down-home characters, each of whom leaves him a little wiser in the ways of the world. Displaying great resilience, a streak of heroism, and a wonderful talent for inventing names—Waldo Smeely, Nestor Beachnut, Busby Spackle, to mention but a few—and fake life stories to go along with them, Sidney makes his way to New York, where he finds both wonder and pain, but not journey’s end. Happily, de Guzman provides Sidney with an appropriately quirky alternative caregiver at the end: a grandmother who’s about as affectionate as a shark, but can at least provide more safety and stability than either parent. Here’s a ride worth taking, not so much for its destination as for the characters—and insights—gathered along the way. (Fiction. 11-13)

Pub Date: Oct. 31st, 2002
ISBN: 0-374-34944-4
Page count: 224pp
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1st, 2002




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