From Publishers Weekly
Fulton bends the generic coming-of-age plot line to explore the effects of poverty and anger on a blue-collar Salt Lake City family in his first novel, which begins when 15-year-old Steven Parker and his sister, Jenny, are attacked by a Mormon gang. Steven's shoulder is dislocated in the scuffle, and a hospital visit puts a strain on the family's resources. Parker's family lives the high life for a brief period when the attacker's embarrassed father foots the bill for the boy's medical care, but once Parker's down-and-out, erratic father, Billy, goes through the money, the Parkers are once again forced to rely on Steven's mother, Mary, for support through her job as a nurse's aide in a rest home. But Mary has a twist of her own in mind when she tires of dealing with her husband's anger problems and takes up with a lawyer she meets during his visit to the rest home. Their impending union leads to an attempt to introduce Steven and Jenny to the lawyer's kids, but the effort to engineer an expanded family unit backfires when Steven's temper surfaces during his visit to the lawyer's house. Fulton's fast-moving prose and his knack for quirky scenes keeps the opening chapters interesting and unusual, and this might have been a compelling book had he increased the size of the attacker's award and stuck with the subplot of the Parkers living high on the hog. But the story line degenerates into genre clich once Fulton focuses on the family issues, dimming the efforts of a talented writer who duplicates much of the promise he showed in Retribution, his debut short story collection.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
From School Library Journal
Adult/High School-Perpetually short on money and led by a parent who's all dreamer, no doer, the Parker family gets a few months of middle-class living when the 15-year-old narrator is beaten up by a Mormon bully (the atheist Parkers have recently relocated to Salt Lake City) whose wealthy father settles out of court. A jobless spendthrift, Stephen's dad races through the cash. His sister drifts toward religion, if only because the popular, wealthy, happy-seeming kids are Mormon, and his mother takes a job she loathes at a nursing home to keep everyone fed. On the morning a patient dies in her arms, something snaps, setting off a chain of events that alters everything for the family in the space of one hellish day. Fulton writes searingly and realistically about divorce. Stephen watches as his father becomes a figure of pity, a groveling buffoon with a runny nose and an untied shoe wailing for love, and sees his mother become another man's sex object, preening like she never has in the teen's lifetime. The surreal moment when he realizes that his folks are not only parents but also people full of passion and pathos almost disgusts Stephen. Readers will appreciate that Fulton gets it, and also has the honesty not to wrap it all up neatly.Emily Lloyd, Fairfax County Public Library, VA
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.