HEROES

Cormier (Tenderness, 1997, etc.) again poses a set of chewy moral dilemmas, but he develops them within a sketchy plot more suited to the short-story form. Francis Cassavant returns to Frenchtown after WWII with a Silver Star, with much of his face blown away by a grenade on which he threw himself, and a fixed intention to kill Larry LaSalle. While he waits for Larry, a war hero with a Silver Star of his own, to return from the service, Francis wanders the streets and relives the past: Strong and handsome, Larry had been a hero even before the war, brilliant at bringing out talents in young people, turning shy, unathletic Francis into a table-tennis champ, with enough self-confidence to date lovely classmate Nicole Renard; two years later, back on a triumphant furlough, Larry raped Nicole as Francis stood by in the next room. While Francis’s shocking opening description of what’s left of his face will churn many stomachs, his long wait for Larry is more tedious than tension-building, and the weary tone of his narrative puts a dreary cast over his observations of a post-war world. To readers familiar with Cormier’s work, the climactic confrontation will hold few, if any, surprises. More a deliberately constructed intellectual exercise on the ambiguities of heroism than a story with flesh and blood characters—and, surprising for this author, spelled out as such—this will disappoint readers hoping for another Tenderness. (Fiction. 12-15)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-385-32590-8

Page Count: 135

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 1998

WHAT THE MOON SAW

When Clara Luna, 14, visits rural Mexico for the summer to visit the paternal grandparents she has never met, she cannot know her trip will involve an emotional and spiritual journey into her family’s past and a deep connection to a rich heritage of which she was barely aware. Long estranged from his parents, Clara’s father had entered the U.S. illegally years before, subsequently becoming a successful business owner who never spoke about what he left behind. Clara’s journey into her grandmother’s history (told in alternating chapters with Clara’s own first-person narrative) and her discovery that she, like her grandmother and ancestors, has a gift for healing, awakens her to the simple, mystical joys of a rural lifestyle she comes to love and wholly embrace. Painfully aware of not fitting into suburban teen life in her native Maryland, Clara awakens to feeling alive in Mexico and realizes a sweet first love with Pedro, a charming goat herder. Beautifully written, this is filled with evocative language that is rich in imagery and nuance and speaks to the connections that bind us all. Add a thrilling adventure and all the makings of an entrancing read are here. (glossaries) (Fiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 12, 2006

ISBN: 0-385-73343-7

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2006

EVERLOST

Death isn’t an easy subject to write about, but Shusterman handles it deftly, as he explores what happens to two children who are “lost” on their way “towards the light.” Nick and Allie have never met, but both are involved in a fatal car accident. They find they are neither living nor spirit; they now exist in Everlost. Learning to cope with their new state of being, they arrive in New York City, where a band of lost children have taken up residence in the Twin Towers, which still stand tall in Everlost. Led by Mary, the Queen of Snot, threatened by the Great McGill and his pirate band, these children have come to accept that this is where they belong and will always be. But Nick and Allie know there must be something—somewhere—else, and they are determined to find out what and where that is. A quirky sense of humor pervades, which helps to lighten what would otherwise be a disturbing concept. But the overall message (that there is existence after life and purpose to that existence and a destination when one is finally ready for it) is one of comfort. For anyone who has lost a friend or loved one at an early age, this is a good read. (Fiction. 12-15)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-689-87237-2

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2006

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