MY LIFE, TAKE TWO by Paul Many


Age Range: 12 & up
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Many (These Are the Rules, 1997) takes a fresh approach to exploring the complexities and pressures that a young adult faces at the crossroads of maturity. It’s the summer before his senior year in high school and Neal, his mother and girlfriend keep reminding him, is supposed to be figuring out what to do with his life. Neal, however, is haunted by strange memories from the past and bizarre visions of his father, who died when Neal was ten. Neal has adopted two techniques for dealing with his unsatisfying existence; one is a wry humor that is often very funny and sometimes sarcastic. The second is the habit of narrating his life through “filmspeak.” Films, Neal believes, can be watched over and over and they never shift or vanish like memories. Saddled with feelings of his own culpability in his father’s death, Neal is disillusioned by a summer job that he absolutely hates and a growing distance between himself and his girlfriend. But it is this summer job that reunites him with his childhood friend, Claire, who helps Neal restore the landscape of that childhood. It is Claire, also, who urges him to believe that dreams aren’t necessarily to be ignored for the sake of practicality. As his past comes into focus Neal finds the vision and drive to shape his future. Though the wrap-up is a little too neat, Many writes this story with a deft pen, evoking a place where past meets present and longing has a voice. (Fiction. 12+)

Pub Date: May 1st, 2000
ISBN: 0-8027-8708-8
Page count: 192pp
Publisher: Walker
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15th, 2000


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