Frenchtown Summer by Robert Cormier, Dan Krovatin (Illustrator)
Reading level: Young Adult
Robert Cormier, much-lauded author of fiction for teens, pulls a switch on his readers with this memoir in blank verse, and proves to be an equally dazzling success as a poet. The story takes place in the streets, alleys, and tenements of the French-Canadian district of Monument called Frenchtown, familiar to Cormier fans from Fade, Heroes, and Tunes for Bears to Dance To.
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A bookish young boy, lonely in his big family, spends his thirteenth summer watching, learning, fearing, wondering--"in the days when I knew my name, but did not know who I was." He yearns for a sign of love from his enigmatic, silent father, and hides a terrible secret about his beloved uncle and the girl whose broken body was found in the woods long ago.
This is vintage Cormier--he has distilled the most powerful themes and images of his previous books into one intensely beautiful and deceptively small work. Every poem is capable of standing alone, yet each additional chapter adds insights and events to carry the story forward. The voice is natural and easy, recognizable from his earlier novels but with heightened emotional impact. Poetry-loving teens will take this book to heart, along with other verse novels like Stop Pretending, by Sonya Sones; Foreign Exchange, by Mel Glenn; and Karen Hesse's Newbery Award-winning Out of the Dust. (Ages 10 and older)
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