From School Library Journal
Grade 9 Up–Danny Murtaugh narrates the events that take place after he drops out of college. Barely 18 and a music student overwhelmed by a failed romance, he has come home to the small community where his widowed mother is dating the town cop and the only diner has a new and attractive waitress. He gets permission from the local recluse to take photographs of the woods and river on the old man's property–an area where Danny's father died and that has long been threatened with seizure in a case of eminent domain. Most of the characters are odd, but none is unbelievable: alcoholism has wracked the lives of a few, including the waitress (who also did drugs), while bad luck and/or bad outlooks have wounded several others, including Danny. The chapters are brief, and each one pitches the protagonist and readers toward a calamity that fits its buildup, and that finds Danny better able to cope than he would have been weeks earlier. While there are no scenes of overt sexuality, readers need to approach this book with a degree of maturity simply because Danny gives so little of himself at first and uncovers so much about others that requires respect and care.–Francisca Goldsmith, Berkeley Public Library, CA
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Gr. 10-12. Danny, 17, seems to have everything going for him, including a full scholarship to music school, but he drops out--and not because his girlfriend dumped him. He and his mom never talk about his dad, who died eight years before while rescuing a dog from the rushing river in their vital, rural community. Danny meets Stephanie, a beautiful single-parent mom, and he loves her. She reveals guilt about an addiction and more, and she helps him find peace in church. The religious message is understated; the issue that really drives the action is the locals' confrontation with the state officials attempting to confiscate land, but it's the honest characters, with all their scrappy, irreverent individuality and compassion, that grab attention. Fast, clipped, immediate, raucous (there are a few instances of the f-word), the dialogue is poetic; so is what's left unsaid. The simple words, and the spaces between them, reveal secrets, breakdown, betrayal, and love. Hazel RochmanCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved