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 Love it or leave it: the old dilemma of the American teenager vis-Ö-vis his hometown is explored again in this coming-of-age novel. The time is 1960, and the place is Calamus, a small logging town in Oregon. For our narrator, high-school senior Wade Curren, there is no problem: his is a snug fit. His family is descended from the original loggers; father Duncan, an ex-logger, now works for the utility company in Portland. Wade himself is a good student and a better athlete, a nice-guy jock; but his girlfriend Lorna has a much less rosy view of their town, seeing it as a ``vicious'' place that boxes and labels everybody. ``The trouble with you,'' she complains to Wade, ``is you want to be packaged.'' A third attitude is embodied in newcomer Jesse Howl. Jesse is an Indian, displaced from his village when the government flooded it for a dam. He makes an immediate impact on Calamus with his baseball and football skills: the games and the town itself become, so Jesse thinks, ``a big party in [his] honor.'' The party's over, though, when the reckless Jesse, in a cockamamie attempt to help some salmon, dynamites the spillway and is sent to a ``school and work farm for hoods.'' That's about the biggest event in this amiable but sluggish first novel, which instead of a plot provides river- journeys and a superabundance of salmon lore. The reader is primed for a showdown between Jesse and the townsfolk that never comes; instead, there is a fatal accident for Jesse and a downriver escape for Wade and Lorna. That ending is a mess--a false note in newcomer Cody's otherwise authentic work: pleasant but unmemorable.

Pub Date: April 6th, 1992
ISBN: 0-679-40431-7
Page count: 288pp
Publisher: Knopf
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1st, 1992


FictionGIFTED by John Daniel
by John Daniel