- Paperback: 262 pages
- Publisher: Picador; First edition (October 1, 2003)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0312422369
- ISBN-13: 978-0312422363
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.6 x 8.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 14.7 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 26 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,332,330 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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In the Cherry Tree: A Novel Paperback – October 1, 2003
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From Publishers Weekly
Rather plodding but appealingly homely, this first novel has the feel of an old family album. In a series of grainy snapshots, Pope chronicles the coming of age of 12-year-old Timmy during the summer of 1974 in suburban Connecticut. Timmy's father ("The Dad") is a boozing, gambling, happy-go-lucky Italian-American builder; his mother ("The Mom") is a no-nonsense Nova Scotia WASP. Timmy spends his time hanging out with his cronies, climbing cherry trees, listening to Elton John, going to movies, masturbating, discovering girls, teasing his older brother and sister and observing the neighborhood's idiosyncrasies. Egged on by his sadistic best pal, Stev (the friends drop the "e" at the end of names), Timmy torments feckless Tony, another neighborhood kid, but draws the line at killing frogs, another of Stev's favorite pastimes. As his parents' marriage slowly disintegrates-mainly because the Mom incessantly nags the Dad about his habit of playing golf and boozing during business hours-Timmy is jarred from his idyllic idling. His dog is killed, and when Stev comes home from camp he betrays Timmy by gambling away Timmy's baseball cards to gain favor with the neighborhood toughs. Pope never builds up much narrative steam with his episodic storytelling, and Timmy's voice is not particularly distinctive (despite his earnest cataloguing of boners and mammoth farts). There is a warmth and authenticity to Timmy's interactions with his parents and siblings, but even the heavy sprinkling of '70s cultural references fails to create much edge.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Watergate hearings are in full swing. Evil Knievel is traveling the country. And in an East Coast suburb, 12-year-old Timmy is surviving a summer that's both tumultuous and commonplace. His best friend starts hanging out with older kids; his parents fight aggressively and even temporarily split apart; the neighborhood bully beats up his mother with an almost impossible lack of conscience ("Yeah, well. What the fuck, right?" the bully says in response). Narrated by Timmy, Pope's accomplished first novel perfectly captures the shadowy, charged age of early adolescence. Orange-peel wars, tree houses, and baseball cards coexist with nearly constant "boners" and dramatic masturbation techniques (one involves a dog's assistance; in another, Timmy secretly rubs his penis over a glass before handing it to a neighbor). Pope's dialogue is heartbreaking and real; his characters sympathetic in their gross imperfections. But best is Timmy's voice--detached and never too self-aware. Pope never tells too much, and the clipped, spare descriptions will draw readers straight into Timmy's unspoken loneliness, confusion, and sweet, wild joy. Gillian Engberg
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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I hate the term ‘coming of age’ to describe a book but I suppose that term works as well as any. This is an extremely difficult time in the life of any young man or woman and the 1970s were a turning point in our culture in this country which made life even more difficult for this generation that many of those before.
This entire work is really a series of vignettes which are tied together by a common theme...growing up, interacting with family and other adults and surviving those of the same age.
The author has captured the feeling of the early 1970s perfectly; not only physically but emotionally and intellectually. Pope is quite graphic in his descriptions of sexual situations and experimentation, attitudes towards peers and relationships between child and parent; indeed, between husband and wives of that era and others.
The author used movies, T.V. shows, music and radio to mark the time and place. This was extremely effective and the author did a grand job of it. I know that even at my rather advanced age I can hear an old song, see an old movie or T.V. program and remember precisely what I was doing when they were playing and were popular. Music, and T.V. to a lesser extent, defines most of our lives to a certain extent and most people’s memories are tied quite closely to such thing. As I said, the author did a wonderful job. I was grateful that the author broke what as become common tradition these days in that he did not mention the Viet Nam war...he did dwell on WWII somewhat but that was natural because of the age of the adults. He also did not dwell on the racial unrest of the time; another topic that is covered quite well in other novels.
All in all this was a well written account of a 12 year old boy growing up during a time when our world was quickly changing is so very many different ways.
This was a library find.