48 Shades of Brown

( 5 )

Overview

Australian teenager Dan Bancroft had a choice to make: go to Geneva with his parents for a year, or move into a house with his bass-playing aunt Jacq and her friend Naomi. He chose Jacq’s place, and his life will never be the same. This action-packed and laugh-out-loud-funny novel navigates Dan’s chaotic world of calculus, roommates, birds, and love.

While his parents are in Geneva, sixteen-year-old Dan spends his last year of high school living with his ...

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Overview

Australian teenager Dan Bancroft had a choice to make: go to Geneva with his parents for a year, or move into a house with his bass-playing aunt Jacq and her friend Naomi. He chose Jacq’s place, and his life will never be the same. This action-packed and laugh-out-loud-funny novel navigates Dan’s chaotic world of calculus, roommates, birds, and love.

While his parents are in Geneva, sixteen-year-old Dan spends his last year of high school living with his twenty-two-year-old bass-playing aunt, Jacq, and her beautiful friend Naomi, whose active lovelife is audible through the wall between their bedrooms.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
STARRED REVIEW "With small details about throwing up, basil, Romeo and Juliet, brown birds, postcards, and sex, Earls build a too-true story that neither older young adults nor adults will be able to put down as their smiles become belly laughs that lead them to new perspectives." VOYA (Voice of Youth Advocates)

Dan's narration is wry and understatedly funny throughout as he comes face to face with the stretching but still extant limits of his maturation...this is a creative departure from the classic Bildugnsroman in its articulate portrayal of a young man who's starting to realize how much more there is to adulthood that he'd realized or is ready for.
Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

Older teens will relish Dan's wry, self-deprecating honesty about attratction, sex (mostly overheard), beer, calculus, and his uproariously funny, earnest search for the kind of guy he wants to be.
Booklist, ALA

Dan is a good kid, and his ruefully observed narration of unrequited love will keep the attention of any boy once persuaded into its pages.
Horn Book

Through Dan's voice, Earls perfectly captures the obsessive, self-conscious, confused state of mind that goes along with adolescence. A vibrant rendition of growing pains.
Publishers Weekly

Dan is a wonderful, complex character. Teen boys - and girls - will find much that they can relate to in this coming-of-age story.
School Library Journal

This Australian coming-of-age novel is both funny and poignant. As Dan fumbles through the process of forming a relationship with someone of the opposite sex, he also learns about making pesto, interpreting Romeo and Juliet, why almost all birds are one of the 48 shades of brown, and why his best course of action is just to be himself.
KLIATT

Publishers Weekly
Reading nearly 300 pages of musings and speculations from a 16-year-old may not be everyone's cup of tea, but those who share narrator Dan's dry sense of humor and intellectual bent will find some very funny-even brilliant-moments in this Australian import. The story begins with Dan eagerly testing the waters of independence while his parents are away in Geneva, Switzerland, and about to enter his senior year. Dan is thrilled to be living with his hip, university student aunt, Jacq (who is only six years older than Dan), but it takes some adjustment for him to move from his parents' "beige," well-organized home to Jacq's chaotic, blue-green abode. While staying with his aunt Jacq, Dan ponders some minor mysteries of the universe (such as why author Neville W. Cayley chooses to use precisely "forty-eight shades of brown" to describe the species of birds in his guidebook). Dan also struggles with the more mundane puzzles of doing laundry and making an edible batch of pesto. Most of the narrator's meandering thoughts end up zeroing in on Jacq's roommate Naomi, a "flaxen-haired-love-goddess," who sets Dan's hormones raging whenever she waters her basil plants. Dan's growing infatuation with Naomi and his attempts to impress her become the main focus of the novel, paving the way to a series of wittily expressed blunders. Through Dan's voice, Earls perfectly captures the obsessive, self-conscious, confused state of mind that goes along with adolescence. A vibrant rendition of growing pains. Ages 14-up. (June) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
KLIATT
To quote from the review of the audiobook in KLIATT, January 2003: This Australian coming-of-age novel is both funny and poignant. When his father is given a one-year assignment in Geneva, Daniel has three options: to accompany his parents, to board at school, or to move into a house with his 22-year-old Aunt Jacq. Jacq plays bass in an all-girl band and has a lovely blonde housemate named Naomi, a university student just two years older than Daniel. Figuring he can learn more than calculus in his last year of school, Dan opts to stay with Aunt Jacq and Naomi. There is a lot of frustration and confusion as 16-year-old Dan faces the awakening emotions generated by his "plan" for his year with Jacq and Naomi: to achieve his four goals—beer, sex, attitude, and calculus. As Dan fumbles through the process of forming a relationship with someone of the opposite sex, he also learns about making pesto, interpreting Romeo and Juliet, why almost all birds are one of the 48 shades of brown, and why his best course of action is just to be himself. KLIATT Codes: S—Recommended for senior high school students. 1999, Houghton Mifflin, Graphia, 274p., Ages 15 to 18.
—Carol Kellerman
VOYA
Named Australia's Children's Book Council 2000 Book of the Year for Older Readers, this enchanting coming-of-age novel is both hilarious and touching. Intelligent and sheltered Dan (a.k.a. Banger), the sixteen-year-old narrator, decides to complete his final school year in Australia. His parents will be in Geneva, Switzerland. He will live with his Aunt Jacq, a recent university graduate, and Naomi, her beautiful, flighty housemate, a university student a few years older than Dan. The situation presents practical responsibilities and his own sexual awakening. Expectations for cooking and cleaning confound him. His amorous feelings for Naomi dominate his life and lead him to use his intellectual powers for girl appeal. Dan's academic, housekeeping, and romantic roles combine and climax at a university party in which he and his friend plan to get girls by passing themselves off as second year law students. He learns a hard lesson instead: Drunks vomit. In the party fallout, Jacq reveals that she also holds amorous feelings for Naomi, Naomi discovers a new male lover, and Dan decides that he might have a chance with the girl he fooled at the party who was also posing as a university student. With small details about throwing up, basil, Romeo and Juliet, brown birds, postcards, and sex, Earls builds a too-true story that neither older young adults nor adults will be able to put down as their smiles become belly laughs that lead them to new perspectives. VOYA Codes: 5Q 5P S (Hard to imagine it being any better written; Every YA (who reads) was dying to read it yesterday; Senior High, defined as grades 10 to 12). 2004 (orig. 1999), Graphia/Houghton Mifflin, 288p., Trade pb. Ages 15 to 18.
—Lucy Schall
School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up-An insightful, appealing, and very funny novel about a teenage boy whose world is turned upside down when his father takes a job in Geneva and he chooses to stay in Australia to finish school. Dan lives with his 22-year-old Aunt Jacq, who is in a band, and her roommate, Naomi, an attractive psychology major who makes bad choices when it comes to men. Inexperienced and unsophisticated, he quickly falls for Naomi and is devastated when his feelings are not returned. Worse still, he has to listen as she and her jerk of a boyfriend have sex in the room next door. Extremely bright and sensitive, Dan is still learning about women, relationships, and controlling his compulsive behavior. His excessive introspection sometimes slows the pace of the novel, but the character feels genuine. Dan's socially awkward, porn-obsessed friend, Chris Burns, adds comic relief. The party Jacq and Naomi throw toward the end of the story leads to a conclusion that is both hilarious and moving. Dan is a wonderful, complex character. He combines his intense curiosity about sex with a rare thoughtfulness as he tries to figure out who he is and who he wants to become. Teen boys-and girls-will find much that they can relate to in this coming-of-age story.-Miranda Doyle, San Francisco Public Library Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Dan's dry, wickedly funny first-person voice chronicles a month of his life as he moves in with his aunt in hometown Brisbane while his parents move to Geneva. Dan is 16, his aunt Jacq 22, and their third housemate-the winsome Naomi-a university student. Unlike his parents' reliably neat household, this place is casual: beer is offered freely, Naomi has audible sex with her boyfriend in the middle of the afternoon, and Dan's on his own for discipline. But Dan is no partier, just a wry, self-aware virgin pining for Naomi. He memorizes the 48 shades of brown that classify birds, but can't get them to come out of his mouth in suitable ways to attract her. A question about calculus (math) becomes an ongoing musing about Calculus (the Tintin professor) merely because Naomi misunderstands. Hip, sarcastic Jacq is kind underneath; Dan's self-deprecating but smart. Colorfully understated and satisfying-and hilarious. (Fiction. YA)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780618452958
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Publication date: 6/7/2004
  • Edition description: None
  • Pages: 288
  • Sales rank: 1,027,494
  • Age range: 12 - 17 Years
  • Lexile: 790L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.00 (w) x 7.00 (h) x 0.69 (d)

Meet the Author

Nick Earls lives in Brisbane, Australia, where he writes for both children and adults. His previous Graphia book, 48 Shades of Brown, won Australia’s Children’s Book Council Book of the Year for Older Readers. It also received the following praise:

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Read an Excerpt

By eight-thirty it’s getting quite crowded.
Jacq, who at seven-thirty was pacing the empty verandahs and smoking a lot, now has champagne in one hand, wine in the other and several conversations going at once. Naomi is working on a spur-of-the- moment punch in the kitchen. Burns is gripping a beer as though it’s a mother’s hand, and looking even more out of place than me.
Phil Borthwick turns up in a tie and Burns gives me a look that suggests he feels a little better about himself. Phil (and I admire this) seems to have no idea that he’s the only person in a tie, and says, with some glee, Great, dancing, when he works out what’s going on in the loungeroom, and why the furniture is all outside.
At least he hasn’t tried anything silly with food. He’s brought a carton of full-strength beer, and there will be plenty of people here who think this more than makes up for the tie.
I don’t actually drink it myself, he says sheepishly to Jacq and me. I’ve got an enzyme thing, so I can’t really touch alcohol. But I thought I’d bring it for the party.
Thanks, Phil, Jacq says, already touching alcohol as though she and it are at least close friends, and with a smile that I haven’t seen before. A lazy, uncomplicated smile, a drinking smile, buckling under the weight of its own bonhomie. But you’d have just the one, wouldn’t you? It’s a party.

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First Chapter

By eight-thirty it's getting quite crowded.
Jacq, who at seven-thirty was pacing the empty verandahs and smoking a lot, now has champagne in one hand, wine in the other and several conversations going at once. Naomi is working on a spur-of-the-moment punch in the kitchen. Burns is gripping a beer as though it's a mother's hand, and looking even more out of place than me.
Phil Borthwick turns up in a tie and Burns gives me a look that suggests he feels a little better about himself. Phil (and I admire this) seems to have no idea that he's the only person in a tie, and says, with some glee, Great, dancing, when he works out what's going on in the loungeroom, and why the furniture is all outside.
At least he hasn't tried anything silly with food. He's brought a carton of full-strength beer, and there will be plenty of people here who think this more than makes up for the tie.
I don't actually drink it myself, he says sheepishly to Jacq and me. I've got an enzyme thing, so I can't really touch alcohol. But I thought I'd bring it for the party.
Thanks, Phil, Jacq says, already touching alcohol as though she and it are at least close friends, and with a smile that I haven't seen before. A lazy, uncomplicated smile, a drinking smile, buckling under the weight of its own bonhomie. But you'd have just the one, wouldn't you? It's a party.
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 5 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews
  • Posted November 18, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    Reviewed by Andrew S. Cohen for TeensReadToo.com

    In 48 SHADES OF BROWN, Australian author Nick Earls comically portrays Dan in this coming-of-age story. <BR/><BR/>Dan, a high school student, boards with his crazy band-playing Aunt Jacq, 22, and her roommate, Naomi, an attractive pysch major at the Uni. Through his social and emotional innocence, Dan becomes infatuated with Naomi and her every movement, including her frequent sexual run-ins with her 'jerk' boyfriend, in turn devastating Dan. <BR/><BR/>Dan is very innocent, yet his sensitive and intellectual demeanor allows the reader to easily identify with him. He has intense social reflection throughout the novel, and only seems to be disrupted by his friend, Chris Burns, another inexperienced, yet porn-obsessed, friend. <BR/><BR/>The realness of the novel and the hilarious conclusion of the party allow for true connection into the complex character of Dan, along with providing for an entertaining read. <BR/><BR/>All those who have had to grow up will be able to relate. I thoroughly enjoyed this book, despite some of it being a bit slow at times. My only other gripe was the unfamiliar textual presentation, as the entire book consisted of Dan's introspection or what seemed to be him hearing others talk, which was put in italics, which I felt was a bit irritable at times throughout. <BR/><BR/>However, I'd recommend this one to anyone who has risen up in the sex-obsessed world we know and love.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 28, 2008

    ..disappointing

    I thought the book was disappointing. I didnt understand if there was a structure to the story and the ending is meaningless and sudden. I would not reccomend this book to anyone, because 288 pages written without any structure is pointless to me.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 4, 2004

    Not Great

    This book is not great. The cover gives the illusion that it will be a thoroughly interesting read, but once I started it, I found it boring and difficult to finish. It is not easy for me to find a book that I didnt enjoy, but there is no structure to the story and the ending is meaningless and sudden. I would not reccomend this book to anyone.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 24, 2004

    Pretty good

    I thought this book was pretty good... there were quite a few parts that made me laugh out loud. Through a lot of it I just wanted to finish the book, but for the most part it was a very good book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 3, 2002

    Laugh out loud!

    Being a seventeen year old student I can really relate to this book. The humour, descriptions and scenarios that Nick Earls uses are very common to me and I feel as if I can relate to the main character. The humour has a certain quirkiness to it and I feel that many people, particularly younger people, will enjoy it.

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