Runyon (The Burn Journals, 2004) tracks the changes in an adolescent boy over four summers, from ages 13 to 16. Each section covers the family’s two-week vacation at their lakeside cottage. The repetitive structure allows readers to see the drastic changes in Luke as he veers from an exuberant middle-schooler whose primary concerns are making sure to fit in enough fishing, rock-skipping, exploring, and star-gazing, through early puberty in which the bikini-clad neighbors and sexual fantasies dominate his thoughts, to an alternately glowering and love-struck teenager finding expression in bad poetry and sullenness. Runyon fairly nails each stage of adolescence, which itself presents a tricky problem: readers who will be drawn to one end of the spectrum may not welcome the other. And at times, the details seem more suited to an adult nostalgia piece (did any kids have Star Wars bedsheets and an E.T. poster in 2005?). But Luke’s voice, narrating in the present tense, and his fixations are believable throughout, and Runyon displays a knack for drawing dramatic tension out of the most routine personal encounters. Grades 8-11. --Ian Chipman
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Starred Review, Kirkus Reviews, February 1, 2009:
“Runyon reveals how life changes us all and how these unavoidable changes can be full of both turmoil and wonder.”Starred Review, Publishers Weekly, February 23, 2009:
"The detail-rich story offers the type of intensity that sneaks up on readers."From the Hardcover edition.