From Publishers Weekly
Following a car crash, Nathan Nelson, 17, is recovering from a two-week-long coma in July 1987. His father, Samuel, a physics professor at a Wisconsin college, wanted a genius for a son. Nathan, who narrates, has always been uninspired at best, but finds that the accident has left him with heightened senses, and a prodigious memory. Cerebral Samuel, whom Nathan can't help revering, rejoices. Even when sent to a school for the gifted, however, Nathan mostly watches TV and smokes cigarettes with girlfriend Teresa, whose talent is a kind of X-ray vision. Teresa soon uses this talent to spot a tragedy looming in Nathan's immediate future, and his life afterward, for the reader, is all frustrating anticlimax. As the years pass, Nathan works at a dead-end library job, stalks townspeople and parties with former schoolmates. This narrative's strengths are its abundant humor, occasional lyrical patches and portrayal of the quirky but reliable Whit Shupak, a retired astronaut and family friend. But Smith (The Mercury Visions of Louis Daguerre) never allows the immature, lackadaisical Nathan to really develop or emerge from his father's shadow. (June)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
*Starred Review* At 17, Nathan Nelson has no idea what he wants to be. His particle-physicist father, however, has already made up his mind: Nathan will be a genius! The boy, who considers himself only slightly above average, has his doubts. "Being less than brilliant with a genius parent," he notes, "is like being the bum who stares, midwinter, through the restaurant window." But things change dramatically when--as the result of an accident--Nathan develops synesthesia; he begins seeing, tasting, and feeling words. He also develops an encyclopedic memory. Filled with new hope, Nathan's father enrolls his son in the Brook-Mills Institute for Talent Development, a research facility that Nathan's blind pianist roommate calls the "Taj Mahal of weird." When his father develops a brain tumor, Nathan's struggles to satisfy the man's great expectations before it's too late become increasingly poignant. This unusual, gorgeously written novel is filled with pleasures: among them are richly imagined supporting characters, including Whit, the astronaut and improbable best friend of Nathan's father, and Teresa, the medical psychic with whom the boy falls in love. Best of all, though, is the book's invitation to wonder--about the imponderables of life and death, the nature of intelligence, and the ultimately inexplicable relationships of fathers and sons. Michael Cart
See all Editorial Reviews
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved