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 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 1998

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The wish-fulfilling title and sun-washed, catalog-beautiful teens on the cover will be enticing for girls looking for a...

THE SUMMER I TURNED PRETTY

Han’s leisurely paced, somewhat somber narrative revisits several beach-house summers in flashback through the eyes of now 15-year-old Isabel, known to all as Belly. 

Belly measures her growing self by these summers and by her lifelong relationship with the older boys, her brother and her mother’s best friend’s two sons. Belly’s dawning awareness of her sexuality and that of the boys is a strong theme, as is the sense of summer as a separate and reflective time and place: Readers get glimpses of kisses on the beach, her best friend’s flirtations during one summer’s visit, a first date. In the background the two mothers renew their friendship each year, and Lauren, Belly’s mother, provides support for her friend—if not, unfortunately, for the children—in Susannah’s losing battle with breast cancer. Besides the mostly off-stage issue of a parent’s severe illness there’s not much here to challenge most readers—driving, beer-drinking, divorce, a moment of surprise at the mothers smoking medicinal pot together. 

The wish-fulfilling title and sun-washed, catalog-beautiful teens on the cover will be enticing for girls looking for a diversion. (Fiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: May 5, 2009

ISBN: 978-1-4169-6823-8

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2009

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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 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2006

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