Laurie Halse Anderson
Laurie Halse Anderson is the author of 5 novels and 3 picture books. Her books have been nominated for numerous awards and many recommendations. Each of her books that I have read has been excellent and this one is no exception. The dust jacket states "Everybody told me to be a man … Nobody told me how." Anderson captures the essence of the journey from a boy to a man.
Tyler Miller had been caught defacing school property, and now he is a hero to some, and an outcast to others, and is trying to find his way in the world. He has done community service all summer at the school, and worked for a landscaping company.
Now he must return to school and face the students and teachers who know what he did and the punishment he received for it. The school year begins badly; at a party he is knocked into a tray of glasses and cuts the feet of the Alpha female of the school, who happens to be the women of his dreams, Bethany Milbury.
Tyler is forced to take Bethany a cake as an apology for the accident. They become friends, and seem to be sort of dating. Then Bethany gets trashed at a party, and Tyler does the right thing. Yet Tyler broke his curfew from the court and that is just the beginning of some serious problems in his life. Unfortunately someone takes advantage of Bethany while she is drunk and most people think it is Tyler because of his reputation.
Most people think he did it. The cops keep coming by. He is attacked in school and out of school. He struggles with what to do, how to be a man. Can he learn how to be a man; can he take control of his life that seems completely out of control?
This book does an amazing job of capturing the angst of growing up, of finding your place in the world. It shows clearly the transition from boy to man, and then end of high school and moving on to the rest of life.
Anderson, as a woman, surprised me with he ability to write about becoming a man; her insight and clarity are awesome. This book should become a classic. Much like her earlier novel Speak I believe this book should be on the reading list for every high school or university Children's Literature course.
The book leaves you wanting more. The reader will want to know what happens next. Where is Tyler in a year, 3, 5 or 10? These questions will haunt you after you finish the book.
Anderson's blog is Mad Woman in the Forest.
(First Published in Imprint 2007-09-28 as 'Short Titles With Varied Depths.')
For my review of Speak click here.