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In telling the story of New England ninth grader Ted LeClare, LaMarche takes Mitch Albom–like sincerity, holds it arm's length from George Saunders–like deadpan satire, and transports the lot to a gun-crazy America that he refuses to judge. The results make his characters unwittingly sophisticated vessels for the hopes and fears of the post-post-Columbine exurbs. The plot is simple: while showing off his .22, Ted loads the gun; while Ted's back is turned, his schoolmate Kevin Dennison accidentally kills Kevin's younger brother, Bobby. The aftermath includes Ted's being taken up by a group of boys calling themselves the American Youth, teens who spout a debased, quasireligious, gun rights, antidevelopment, NIMBY-like parody of conservative talk show rhetoric. Ted also, at his mother's direction (his father is absent), lies about having loaded the gun. As Ted (referred to as "the boy" most of the time) comes around to telling the truth about what happened, there are detours into bad behavior with the Youth. In vivid set pieces, aimless teens take vigilante action against creeping cookie-cutter housing and enforce a bizarre set of double-standards. Drugs, alcohol and sex fascinate and repel the Youth in equal measure. LaMarche deftly allows his debut to be at once a parable and a dead-on rendering of its time and place. (Apr.)Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.