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How Evan Broke His Head and Other Secrets Paperback – May 1, 2008


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Soho Press (May 1, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1569474982
  • ISBN-13: 978-1569474983
  • Product Dimensions: 1.1 x 5.4 x 8.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (156 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #595,249 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Stein (Raven Stole the Moon) builds an engrossing family drama around a Seattle rock musician. Evan's the odd man out in the Wallace family: his dad's a renowned heart surgeon, his mom's the dutiful doctor's wife and his brother's a successful lawyer. His entire life, they've treated Evan like damaged goods, and in some ways he is. Hit by a car as a child, Evan now has frequent and sometimes severe epileptic seizures. And although he once had a top-10 hit, these days Evan gets by working as a guitar shop salesman. Stein ups the emotional ante of the Wallace world by dropping a 14-year-old son, Dean, in Evan's lap when the boy's mother, Evan's high school flame, is killed in an auto accident. Long denied a chance to be involved in Dean's raising, Evan is excited to be a dad, but it isn't easy—there's that exchange when Dean smacks Evan and Evan calls him a "rude little shit," for example. It's as if Stein has taken his hero, set a series of nasty psychological and medical roadblocks in his path, and then stepped back to see if Evan can find his way toward health and happiness. Following the emotionally stunted Evan along his arduous journey isn't always a pleasant experience, but the path is littered with life lessons that Stein weaves into the narrative with honesty and compassion. (Apr.) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Stein is clearly aiming for Nick Hornby territory in this novel about thirtysomething musician Evan, who is suddenly required to parent Dean, the teenage son he's never even met, when Dean's mom is killed in an accident. Evan, who suffers from epilepsy, is the lead guitar player in a promising Seattle rock band. As he struggles to integrate his son into his routine, he must also wrestle with unresolved issues, including his fractious relationship with his parents and with his straight-arrrow brother and the feeble way he dealt with his pregnant girlfriend in high school. Dean, still grief stricken and unsure of his fledgling relationship with Evan, starts to act out, and Evan must decide whether he has what it takes to be a father. In his second novel, following Raven Stole the Moon (1998), Stein struggles mightily to capture the commitment issues that Hornby incorporates so naturally. Despite many awkward passages, he does manage to hit a few grace notes when describing the music scene in Seattle and Evan's complicated attitude toward his epilepsy. Joanne Wilkinson
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

Garth Stein is the author of three novels, The Art of Racing in the Rain, How Evan Broke His Head and Other Secrets, and Raven Stole the Moon, and a play, Brother Jones. He has also worked as a documentary filmmaker and lives in Seattle with his family.

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Customer Reviews

Maybe it's just a good book to read anytime!
TheDallesmbt
I could very much relate to the lead character in the book, as I also have a chronic disease.
Pam
Instead, it was an enjoyable peek into a life very dissimilar to my own.
Mindy M.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

76 of 79 people found the following review helpful By Mindy M. on July 5, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I was a little hesitant about this book. It sounded compelling, but the reviews made it sound a little scattered- it's about a guy, and his kid and a band and epilepsy...and, and. But it's not like that at all. It's a peek into someone's very complicated life. Sure, it's about a guy and this kid and a band and epilepsy-- but Stein writes in a way that makes us care and feel involved without manipulating our emotions.

It seemed so real. The characters in EVAN have conversations that don't go quite right. They suffer from jumbled and conflicting memories. Evan is cool, he's a hot guitarist, but that doesn't mean he can help behaving like a dweeb now and then.

What I liked the most was how Stein didn't let Evan get too caught up in his own pity party. His life became difficult and he had reason to wallow now and then, but Stein didn't baby him. He made it clear that Evan wasn't the only guy in the world with problems, that once Evan looked up and out of his insular bubble of emotions, he would be slapped with the reality that the world ain't always about YOU. If you ask me, that is what this book is really about.

I was concerned that this book might be an agonizing excersize in self realization. Instead, it was an enjoyable peek into a life very dissimilar to my own. Like Nick Hornby's books, it was a thoughtful and enjoyable journey. And isn't that what fiction is all about?

Don't hesitate. Read it!
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41 of 43 people found the following review helpful By J. Beyer on November 29, 2008
Format: Paperback
I bought this book because I absolutely fell in love with The Art of Racing in the Rain. 'Racing' was one of the best books I have read in a long time. Perhaps I had too high of hopes for this book, because I ended up quite disappointed.
I found that much of the book was unbelievable, and not in a good way. Without ruining the book for those who wish to read it; you find out right away that Evan, the main character has a 14 year old son he has never spoken to. The day he meets his son the grandmother runs out and tells Evan to take the child for a few days because her husband is abusive. To me this is very strange...granted it is fiction, but it is a bit too far fetched for me. There are other instances in the book where conversations are had that are just too strange for me to ignore. They just don't seem to fit.
That being said, I think that Stein did a good job of showing how an epileptic may feel afraid of people knowing about their condition. To me, the book was just okay; it isn't something I would recommend nor something I would read again.
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29 of 32 people found the following review helpful By Holly Byerly on March 12, 2005
Format: Hardcover
This is a book for people who love to read. You'll want to buy several copies-one to keep, others to give to friends. It's original, beautifully written, and deals with complicated subject matter that doesn't easily transcend to literature. The prose is flawless, the imagery gripping, and yet it's still a very human story that will stay with you long after you read the last page.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By J. Price on October 23, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I read this earlier novel after finishing Garth Stein's" The Art of Racing in the Rain." I find the two novels to be very different yet still sharing wonderful similarities. Two character-driven tales conceived and penned by the same sensitive hand.

"How Evan Broke his Head and other secrets" is the story of Evan Wallace, 31-years old, a brilliant rock guitarist and musician living alone in his late grandfather's small apartment (with a terrific view). Evan is the son of a prominent Seattle heart surgeon and his obedient wife, and is the older brother to Charlie, a seemingly over-achieving attorney on the partner track. Evan is damaged - he has suffered from epilepsy since age 12 when, on a dare, he ran in front of a car, was struck and nearly killed. Evan's epilepsy -- its cause and its symptoms -- is a major aspect of Evan's character. I am very affected by its full burden here and the steady courage Mr. Stein has discovered in Evan, the hero of this story.

In this novel, Evan discovers friends, family, love and opportunity hovering just out of reach. He finds a 14 year old son lost to him shortly after birth and chooses to embrace and care about the absent boy. He finds a woman who sees his worth and confronts him with it. Great responsibilities accompany parenthood; fear and confusion precede commitment; forgiveness accompanies a life that is not solitary. Evan faces his terrible secrets and must choose to understand and reveal them lest he leave them only half-buried. As in The Art of Racing in the Rain, Mr. Stein's prose is dialogue-driven, visual. I find his writing completely engaging and satisfying.

To quote the wise philosopher Enzo (from The Art of Racing in the Rain): "understanding the truth is simple; allowing oneself to experience it can sometimes be terrifically difficult."

All in all, a very cool book.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By P. Schaap on March 14, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Once again, Garth Stein delves deep into the psyches of fascinating characters. Evan's epilepsy and the effect it has on his life and creativity is beautifully observed and artfully related. And, although his relationship to his new-found teenage son is unique, every parent will recognize the struggle to bring up children, while remaining a person in their own right.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By L. Haverstock on May 1, 2007
Format: Paperback
The story about a young man dealing with becoming a father was good, but what blew me away was the incredible depiction of the life of a person with a minimal handicap. His epilepsy doesn't show immediately to others, but it haunts every moment of his life. He has completely educated himself to limit the disease as much as it can be limited and if he is control of his life he controls the disease. But none of us can control our lives and the conflict of this book seems to be, can he be heroic enough to risk imbalance and save his son? Can he take the steps to make others in his life recognize that he can handle the handicap and run his own life? I thought there were a couple of other issues - people testing your love by pulling away and how we manipulate our life stories to fit the truths we can handle about ourselves that resonated with truth. There seemed to be a great honesty in this book and I was deeply impressed.
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