Disquieting in its timeliness, Hornburg's (Bongwater) second novel is a tale of violence among high school cliques and a gritty portrait of adolescent pluck amid morbid chaos. Narrator Crystal Methedrine Swanson is on the verge of graduating from Downers Grove High in Illinois. Chrissie, as her friends call her, has a lot to deal with on the home front: her father has left without a trace, her brother is addicted to heroin and her mother is dating an increasingly sinister new beau. Chrissie and her boy-crazy, sexpot best friend, Tracy, also worry about "the curse" of their high school: each year before graduation, somebody in the senior class dies in a bizarre way. One year a math whiz killed several people in the parking lot before turning the shotgun on himself; other graduations were marred by suicide, drowning and several drunk-driving accidents. After Chrissie beats up a jock who tried to rape her at a party, she becomes terrified that she will be the next statistic. The jock and his buddies pursue an escalating plot of revenge beginning with a vicious car chase. They also set fire to Chrissie's school locker and strew dead dogs on her lawn. Adding to the plot twists of this teenybopper drama is Chrissie's obsession with a 26-year-old mechanic--cum-race-car driver named Bobby. Tough, insensitive and super-cool, Bobby is the kind of character only a teenage girl could love. Hornburg's prose is rife with adolescent jokes and lingo, some of it hilarious and sharp. At other times the humor wears thin, especially because Chrissie's youthful wisecracking does not segue smoothly into passages of soul-searching introspection. Yet Chrissie's relentlessly vernacular teenage voice takes up residence in the reader's mind, establishing her vulnerability and demonstrating the courage she shows on her stressful road to maturity. Photos. (Aug.) FYI: Hornburg is managing editor of Grove/Atlantic.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Hornburg, author of Bongwater (1995), alternates wit with lyricism in this tale about the last weeks of a suburbanite high-schooler's senior year. As her name suggests, Crystal Methedrine Swanson (she goes by Chrissie) comes from an off-kilter family. Dad has disappeared. Her brother is a basement-dwelling, music-addled junkie. Mom, anxious for relief, is dating a churchgoing man. Even Grandma is strange, but she, at least, provides the novel's spiritual center. Chrissie's troubles begin when she falls for a feral mechanic and earns herself a pack of murderous enemies after defending herself against a drunken assault at a kegger. As she and her best friend, the libidinous VW-driving Tracy, mug their way through a series of increasingly unconvincing misadventures, Hornburg allows his electrifying portrayal of adolescent angst to mutate into a mishmash of movie-and MTV-generated cliches. But his evocation of the suburbs as "ghettos of meaninglessness" and his sensitivity to both the violence of teen culture and the innate radiance of young people make this flawed novel worth reading. Donna Seaman --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.See all Editorial Reviews
I read this book when it came out in 1999. It's a good quick read. Yes there are some inaccuracies about what us DG teens did but I thought it captured us pretty well. Read morePublished 1 month ago by KVILL
A decent premise of one high school student dying each year fizzles into Dawson's Creek. The third season. An urban legend come true that somehow manages to be mundane.Published on July 31, 2013 by Lola Run Lola
This was a good, quick, fun, summer read. It was well-written too. There were a few time-gap missteps (for example I think they listen to a band on a cassette tape that was not yet... Read morePublished on July 5, 2013 by Christopher Gurrie
I was really exited to buy this book for a dollar on sale. "Holy crap! My hometown made it big!"
About three pages in, I wondered why this particular grown man chose to... Read more
This is one of the worst books I've ever read. I agree with a lot of the other reviewers who also gave it a low rating.Published on November 17, 2011 by L. N. Kleisner
I read this book probably 5 or 6 years ago and I have to say it is one of the most memorable I have ever read. Read morePublished on February 10, 2011 by L. Gillis
I went to high school with this author and he got it soooo right!
Great read and very accurate, I already sent it on to my friends
and they loved it too!
Jeez, does it really matter how accurate it is as far as being set in Downer's Grove? I didn't realize this was supposed to be an Encyclopedia Article on the place, and quite... Read morePublished on March 4, 2009 by dssdsdsdsd
I've never been a teenage girl, or lived in Downer's Grove, but I liked this book when I read it 6 years ago as a man in Texas in my late 20s. Read morePublished on January 26, 2009 by Mark Baland