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The Tutor Mass Market Paperback – July 29, 2003
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From Publishers Weekly
Remember Norman Bates, the cyber-creep from Hitchcock's Psycho? Julian Sawyer, the title character in Abrahams's latest suspense yarn, is clearly cut from the same cloth a creep in sheep's clothing. Once again this author finds menace in dailiness, as he creates a scenario that's firmly grounded in real life, but which becomes increasingly (and fascinatingly) skewed Leave It to Beaver meets I Know What You Did Last Summer. Things begin routinely enough when Linda and Scott Gardner hire Julian to improve the less-than-acceptable SAT scores of their teenage son, Brandon. But before you can say "just like Norman Bates," the seemingly affable, helpful Julian earns the Gardners' trust and subtly exploits each family member's weakness in an attempt to topple their suburban house of cards. While Abrahams slowly ratchets up the tension, readers will discover that professional backstabbing, financial ruin and even murder are all within the scope of this tutor's lesson plans. As usual, the author's ear for the diverse details of everyday life is sharp; indeed, our empathy with these characters' recognizable quirks cleverly serves as a sort of buffer against the sinister goings-on until it's nearly too late. Though all the characters here are deftly drawn (even Zippy, the Gardners' pooch, demonstrates an endearing personality in a brief, nonspeaking role), one merits special mention: not only is the immensely precocious Ruby Gardner passionate about Sherlock Holmes and anything colored blue and yellow, but she's wise well beyond her 11 years and almost smart enough to outfox Julian. Put it this way: if The Tutor were a TV show, Ruby would be spun off into her own series in a Hollywood minute.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From School Library Journal
Adult/High School-Hired by Scott and Linda Gardner to help their teenage son, Brandon, improve his SAT scores, Julian Sawyer quickly makes himself indispensable to the family. Only Ruby (Aruba Nicole Marx Gardner), 11, a precocious Sherlock Holmes devotee, begins to suspect that the tutor has sinister intent. The Gardners are upwardly mobile, middle-class people concerned with an Ivy League college acceptance for their only son. Scott, in business with his brother, suffers from a sibling inferiority complex, exacerbated by the success Tom's son has had with the SATs and tennis competitions. Linda, concerned with success at her job, baffled by her son's surliness, and frazzled by the whirl of family pressure, is a perfect target for the oh-so-capable Julian. Both parents wrestle with long-standing guilt and grief over the death of their firstborn son. Brandon is acting out, rebelling against pressures he really can't define. All three individuals are like lab animals to Julian; he experiments with their responses by subtly altering their environments. Ruby seems beyond his machinations and understanding and proves to be a worthy, capable adversary in this lethal duel of wits, as she follows clues in true Holmesian fashion. Reading this novel is a compelling roller-coaster ride-one just can't get off until it's over. Teens will enjoy the fast pace, the absorbing foray into deadly mind games, and the valiant heroine.
Carol DeAngelo, Kings Park Library, Burke,
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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I lost patience with the story and especially the characters, and didn't stick with it. I may go back and finish it, but I just felt the book was a bit tedious. I think many people who are not familiar with the author's better stuff would rate the book at least OK; thus my three star rating.
I was under the impression this was meant to be a psychological suspense book, yet NOTHING happens for nearly the first 100 pages. As in, there are paragraphs detailing the 11 year old girl's math test. Tennis games. Page long excerpts from a Sherlock Holmes book a character is reading. Parents obsessing about what college their son can get into. Basically it narrates the day-to-day life of a (very unlikable) american family in a very uninteresting way for most of the novel. Oh, and, for some reason, a lyric by a random rapper gets repeated throughout the entire book before that rapper is shot by another rapper and ends up in a coma... what that had to do with the rest of the book, I will never understand! Then, finally, the tutor begins his living novel and starts manipulating the subjects. Slowly. Sooooo slowly. The author fails to draw you into the act, fails to give you just that little hint of what's to come to leave you trying to figure out how it'll turn out. You don't even know for sure that half of the things happening to the family were done by the tutor until near the end of the book... though you know he's manipulating them? The writing style is just so inconsistent. The suspense aspect, for me, didn't start until the last 15% or so of the book!!
Aside from the story telling, which completely failed at any goal of being interesting to me, there were some major plot holes. First and foremost, the tutor is supposed to be some sort of genius... or at the least, very highly intelligent. Yet he's ultimately outsmarted by an 11 year old girl. As far as I know, this wasn't meant to be a kid's book. And if it was, the random sex scenes and Julian twisting the head off a bat seem rather out of place... so why is the 11 year old girl the only one with half a brain in this?
Second major issue... How did the parents go from hiring a tutor two nights a week to telling the tutor their deepest secrets and allowing him to spend the night at their house??
Third, and this was a MAJOR plot hole, when the parents start to suspect that there's something going on with Julian, Linda takes a jar of strawberry jam and hits him in the head as hard as she can. Presumably this would knock him out, or at the very least give her the upper hand. Yet, somehow, both of the parents end up tied up in the attic? How did that happen? And why did the author never feel like that should be explained?
Ugh. Suffice to say, I cannot recommend this book, and will not be reading anything else this author has written.
At first, Julian seems to be a Godsend--he connects with Brandon, bails out Ruby, solves Linda's work crisis, and even gives Scott some priceless tips on his tennis game. But are things really what they seem? Although the story is told from the perspectives of all five main characters in turn, author Peter Abrahams focuses mainly on the points of view of Ruby, an amateur sleuth who begins to suspect that something is not quite right, and Julian, who offers the reader glimpses into his true nature. The tension between this unlikely pair builds throughout the story, and Abrahams does an excellent job of drawing the reader in. One small complaint I had is that Julian's expertise in virtually every subject with which he is confronted is a bit contrived. On the other hand, that's kind of the point: this is no ordinary villain, but rather your worst nightmare--the devil who masquerades as your savior.
Overall, I found this book entertaining and engrossing. I definitely enjoy Abraham's writing style, and I will continue reading his works.
The Gardners are a typical upper middle class family, striving to be better. Husband and father Scott Gardner is jealous of his brother, who seems to have everything Scott doesn't. Scott pushes his family to excel and succeed...but is hampered by the memory of his dead son, Adam. Brandon Gardner, Scott's next-oldest son and still living, must survive with the pressure of Adam's ghost hovering over his world all the time. Scott is certain that Adam would've grown up to become the perfect uber-son, had he not succumbed to leukemia at a relatively young age. And now Brandon is beginning to show signs of failure.
Enter Julian Sawyer, an opportunistic man hired as tutor to Brandon Gardner. Think Norman Bates here. The tutor is a skillful sociopath with evil intent on his mind.
Throw into the mix a precocious young daughter who idolizes Sherlock Holmes, and you have a brilliant thriller that makes ones pulse pound to the very end.
Abrahams has written an intelligent, wonderful novel in "The Tutor". Well-portrayed characters, and a believable plot make this a must-read book!