MR. WAS by Pete Hautman


Age Range: 12 & up
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 Hautman (for adults, The Mortal Nuts, p. 622, etc.) combines the elements of mystery, science fiction, and domestic violence in his compelling and unrelentingly grim first novel for teenagers. When his grandfather Skoro dies, teenage Jack Lund and his mother journey to the old man's mansion in the aptly named town of Memory. Jack discovers a hidden doorway that transports him back fifty years, and he travels back and forth in time easily. Following the murder of his mother at the hands of his alcoholic father, Jack flees permanently into the past, vowing to live through the years leading up to his mother's death and prevent it. But life in the less-technological past proves just as complicated as the present: Jack falls in love with Andie, but rather than form the third corner of a romantic triangle, he enlists in and barely survives WW II. Jack eventually recovers and remembers his quest. Confronting life's tragedies and integrating them is one of the novel's themes, and so Jack's destiny remains regretfully unalterable. He finds some manner of happiness through a complicated leap of temporal mechanics, but it may not hearten younger readers when weighed against the unsentimental portrayal of an alcoholic household and the bloody murder. More sophisticated readers, however, will find the realism refreshing and enjoy solving the conundrum of Jack's life. (Fiction. 12+)

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1996
ISBN: 0-689-81068-7
Page count: 216pp
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15th, 1996


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