DREAMLAND LAKE

Not once, but three different times, Brian Bishop finds himself staring into the "Awful Face of Death." Brian's stunned reactions to the suddenness of death and the ultimate incomprehensibility of a corpse are in stark counterpoint to his other memories of his thirteenth summer. He and his friend Flip subsist largely on sly adolescent wit — chuckling over the inept efforts of English teacher Mabel Klimer to introduce them to POETRY, Brian's mother's fondness for Bacharach, and the frumpish gentility of an old local history book produced by one Estella Winlder Bates; they also fantasize together about their hero, the YMCA swimming teacher whom they nickname Ralph The Free. After the two boys find the body of an old tramp in the woods Flip, who lives up to his name and has a cruel streak besides, encourages Brian in another illusion: perhaps the pathetic fat boy Elvan, who has been trying to interest them in his collection of Nazi souvenirs, knows something more about the tramp's death? Their efforts to build their discovery into a full-scale mystery eventually leads to a real tragedy — a startlingly convincing freak accident which sets the seal to Brian's chronicle of innocence remembered and lost. Less convincing, however, is the implication that Flip is actually responsible for what happens to Elvan. This assignment of guilt by hindsight adds an unsettling dimension to an otherwise finely tuned shocker. Though the fraternal naivete of boarding school life in another generation has been replaced with a kind of wry public school prescience, this ambiguous mixture of nostalgia and guilt is invariably reminiscent of a Separate Peace. The message is somewhat less than meets the eye, but for boys at a certain stage of growing up, Dreamland Lake projects a firm reality.

Pub Date: Aug. 6, 1973

ISBN: 0141308125

Page Count: 147

Publisher: Holt Rinehart & Winston

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1973

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An earnest examination of mental health in sports.

GEESE ARE NEVER SWANS

Sixteen-year-old Gus Bennett lives in the shadow of his older brother, Danny, a former Olympic swimming hopeful who recently died by suicide.

Gus does not have an easy home life: He has a strained relationship with his mother, a single parent who’s still struggling after Danny’s death; and his older sister, Darien, has a drug addiction and abandoned her now 18-month-old child to the care of their mother. But Gus hopes to train with Coach Marks, the renowned trainer who worked with his brother. He even sneaks into the country club to get access to the pool, willing to do whatever it takes to succeed. He has his eye on qualifying for the national team and seems poised for success, but he soon experiences a downward spiral and engages in reckless behavior. Although the side characters are underdeveloped, Gus’ first-person narration carries the story along smoothly. Conceptualized by the late Academy Award–winning basketball player Bryant and written by Clark, this emotional novel contains lyrical prose that beautifully captures the energy of swimming and short chapters that will keep readers engaged. Physical descriptions are limited, suggesting a white default, but naming conventions suggest some diversity among the swim team members.

An earnest examination of mental health in sports. (resources) (Fiction. 12-18)

Pub Date: July 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-949520-05-7

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Granity Studios

Review Posted Online: June 1, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2020

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This story is necessary. This story is important.

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THE HATE U GIVE

Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter is a black girl and an expert at navigating the two worlds she exists in: one at Garden Heights, her black neighborhood, and the other at Williamson Prep, her suburban, mostly white high school.

Walking the line between the two becomes immensely harder when Starr is present at the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend, Khalil, by a white police officer. Khalil was unarmed. Khalil’s death becomes national news, where he’s called a thug and possible drug dealer and gangbanger. His death becomes justified in the eyes of many, including one of Starr’s best friends at school. The police’s lackadaisical attitude sparks anger and then protests in the community, turning it into a war zone. Questions remain about what happened in the moments leading to Khalil’s death, and the only witness is Starr, who must now decide what to say or do, if anything. Thomas cuts to the heart of the matter for Starr and for so many like her, laying bare the systemic racism that undergirds her world, and she does so honestly and inescapably, balancing heartbreak and humor. With smooth but powerful prose delivered in Starr’s natural, emphatic voice, finely nuanced characters, and intricate and realistic relationship dynamics, this novel will have readers rooting for Starr and opening their hearts to her friends and family.

This story is necessary. This story is important. (Fiction. 14-adult)

Pub Date: Feb. 28, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-249853-3

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 6, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2016

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