Tuesday, June 6, 2006
Too Cruel for School
It will only take one page of this book before readers are transported back to high school. Frank Portman remembers very well what it was like to be King Dork of the student body.
Tom and his best friend, Sam, are low on the social totem pole at their high school. Beaten up by jocks, ridiculed by teachers and assistant principals, they find solace in the off-beat and witty names they give their non-existent rock band. Tom writes scathing personal lyrics that reflect his life's anxieties and disappointments. He lives with his depressed and neurotic widowed mother, her gentle and clueless hippie husband, and his younger tween sister. When he's not going to his daily survival training AKA high school, Tom is reading his dead father's collection of novels from high school and discovering the kind of kid his Dad was and looking for clues to his father's death. Was it murder, an accident or suicide? Tom is also looking for the elusive Fake Fiona who made out with him at a party and is now nowhere to be found. Lots of snarky references to J.D. Salinger's Catcher in the Rye and an index of songs, albums and band names will have readers snickering from the back of study hall. The similarities to the '60s classic are uncanny. For another dose of high school hi-jinks, try Larry Doyle's I Love You, Beth Cooper.