HARRY AND HORTENSE AT HORMONE HIGH by Paul Zindel

HARRY AND HORTENSE AT HORMONE HIGH

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Hormone High"" is narrator Harry's pseudonym for the ""teenage loony bin"" on Staten Island, N.Y., where he and girlfriend Hortense go to school, spending a lot of their time writing for the Bird's Eye Gazette. (Harry wants to be a writer; Hortense wants to be a shrink.) But the usual loony status quo at Hormone gets even loonier when the kids meet Jason Rohr--beautiful face, the body of a Greek god, ""the most dynamic and exciting teenage schizophrenic we've ever known."" Jason, it seems, believes he's ""Icarus, A God,"" a super-hero sent to Hormone High to begin a quest to save mankind. And Harry and Hortense know that poor Jason is sick, of course--especially after they learn that, when Jason was six, his father murdered his mother, then committed suicide. Nonetheless, something in Jason's idealistic quest appeals to Harry: ""I still think we're both being called to a very special Adventure. There's something we're being called on to do. Something not just for Jason--but because of him--of what he wants to stand for!"" So, while the other kids at Hormone react with derision and extreme cruelty (a dog-poisoning) to Jason's pathetic attempts at vague proselytizing, Harry and Hortense remain his steadfast friends--even when Harry suspects Hortense of being sexually interested in Jason, even when Jason is taken away (not for the first time) to a real loony bin. They rescue him from the asylum; Hortense vainly tries to pull Jason out of his fantasies; Jason, now on the loose, escalates his crazy quest into quasiterrorism. And, inevitably, Jason/Icarus meets a tragic end during an attempt to fly above the nasty crowd--though ""There in the future I knew it was Hortense and I flying somewhere because we had heard a call to an important adventure--and accepted! Hortense and I were like Jason. Because of him we, too, had risen from ancient magic and we would go forth with amulets against all dragon forces."" Despite the jazzy, cute narration (which often seems inappropriate here): one of Zindel's least successful crazy-teenager tales--with sketchy, implausible, wildly romanticized treatment of serious mental illness.

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1984
ISBN: 1935169378
Publisher: Harper & Row