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Anthem of a Reluctant Prophet

Anthem of a Reluctant Prophet

4.3 3
by Joanne Proulx

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“Joanne Proulx’s debut novel is an impressive literary feat. Anthem of a Reluctant Prophet is a pitch-perfect glimpse of that powerful yet paradoxically fragile moment in adolescence when the world is rushing at you and you are rushing at it.”—Katharine Weber, author of Triangle

“Proulx is . . . a talented inhabitor of


“Joanne Proulx’s debut novel is an impressive literary feat. Anthem of a Reluctant Prophet is a pitch-perfect glimpse of that powerful yet paradoxically fragile moment in adolescence when the world is rushing at you and you are rushing at it.”—Katharine Weber, author of Triangle

“Proulx is . . . a talented inhabitor of people unlike herself . . . every new writer so blessed should be cherished.”—Toronto Star

“A narrative rippling with the author’s insight slyly encoded in the hormone itch and cooler-than-thou posturing of a mixed-up teen. . . . Beguiling.”—The Globe and Mail

“Joanne Proulx’s debut novel rocks, and her teenage protagonist, Luke Hunter . . . rules. . . . This is a great book.”—National Post (Canada)

"A contemporary coming of age story that feels authentic to its times. It has some rough language and doesn’t shy away from depicting the kinds of things that a lot of teens do—in other words, they’re not squeaky clean the way the kids are in the Stephenie Meyer Twilight books….what I like about Proulx’s writing is that, throughout the book, the reader never quite knows where she’s going with the various elements of her plot, yet once we get to where she takes us, it all makes perfect sense. And boy, does she get the voice right. Highly recommended.”—Charles de Lint for Fantasy & Science Fiction

When seventeen-year-old Luke Hunter foretells the death of his friend with freakish accuracy, his life gets complicated. Everyone in Stokum, Michigan, his rank little pinprick of a hometown, knows about the premonition and wants to know more. But Luke holds everyone—the local news crew, his parents, his buddy Fang—at arm’s length, telling no one that the death premonitions keep happening. Terrified, he lurches through a personal minefield studded with previously unconsidered existential ponderings, Christian fundamentalists, and a dream girl who his dead friend left behind. Anthem of a Reluctant Prophet is a darkly comic coming-of-age novel that nails contemporary youth culture.

Joanne Proulx’s short stories have been published in literary magazines on both sides of the Atlantic. Anthem of a Reluctant Prophet is her first novel. She lives in Ottawa, Canada.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

A teenager's gift of premonition becomes a curse in Proulx's confident debut. It's the fall of 2002 in Stokum, Mich., a "rank little pinprick of a town," where a night of pot smoking brings about Luke Hunter's prediction that his friend Stan will be crushed by a red van with out-of-state license plates. When the random prophecy comes true, a "media madhouse" infiltrates Luke's quiet life while his parents remain confused and frustrated. Dubbed the "Prophet of Death," Luke experiences more "death flashes" that become reality. Terrified by his new ability, Luke gets a prescription for a powerful sedative, which stops the visions for a while, but soon they-and his general disillusionment with life-return. As Luke tries to make peace with his psychic abilities, he crushes out on a girl at school and is the subject of an attempted religious intervention. Though a couple of plot points are left unexplained or unresolved, Proulx channels the ennui, insecurity and inner yearnings of a teenage boy to produce a fast-moving tale of struggling youth that has a great potential for YA crossover. (Apr.)

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School Library Journal

Adult/High School -"Stan....Tomorrow morning. Eight thirty-seven" is teen protagonist Luke Hunter's stoned premonition of someone's death. He jokingly shares it with his gang of "basement dwellers" gathered for "bad dope, bad company and even worse music" in bland, middle-class suburban Stokum. But when Stan dies the next day, exactly as predicted, life veers wildly off track for Luke, his friends, his family, and the town's citizens as they attempt to make sense of it all. Proulx's thoroughly engrossing first novel is a darkly comic, yet naturalistic portrayal of the interior and external world of contemporary teens. Her kids are refreshingly authentic. They are not exaggerated, self-absorbed cartoons spewing vacuous, ironic sound bites. Rather, they are warmly human, rich, and developed individuals. Luke is tagged the "prophet of death" by an overzealous self-serving news anchor. But he is no prophet, nor does he want to be. His fleeting clairvoyance predicts a few more deaths, but then fades away as quickly as it manifested. He attempts to alter the outcomes of these other premonitions, but he is powerless to do so. Neither well-intentioned nor less-benign adults, including a doctor and a preacher, can provide Luke with the answers he is seeking. Beautiful, unpretentious Faith, Stan's girlfriend, acts as Luke's anchor and forgiver. He eventually learns he can only work to heal himself, and be true to his friends and those who love him. This ultimately redemptive story celebrates adolescence with compassionate understanding. A glorious wow of an ending has Luke discovering his own salvation, standing with Faith in the front row of a White Stripes concert, rejoicing simply intheir youth.-Jodi Mitchell, Berkeley Public Library, CA

Kirkus Reviews
Wise-ass narrator Luke Hunter is given to premonitions about death-some true, some false-and eventually has what he might call a spiritual-like epiphany. Proulx is pitch-perfect in her portrayal of the potty-mouthed, weed-smoking, angst-ridden adolescent narrator. The novel is framed by death scenes. The first is Stan's, a golden boy whose death Luke eerily and unaccountably foresaw. The last takes place at the cemetery where Stan is buried, where Luke reconciles himself to the difficulties of being fallible, sensitive and human. In between lies the story of Luke's presentiments about the death of friends and acquaintances, Luke's clumsy attempts to get closer to Stan's girlfriend (who mysteriously bumps into him at a Red Hot Chili Peppers concert-another supernatural sign?) and the attempt of Pastor Ted to "wring Satan" out of Luke. Growing up in the spiritless town of Stokum, Mich., Luke spends much of his time monosyllabically avoiding his parents and especially his Uncle Mick, reputed to have an extrasensory power similar to Luke's. At the core of the narrative is Luke's awkward coming-of-age story, one complicated in his case by a gift-or curse-he can't control. The essence of Luke's world is his status as a loner and self-defined loser. Spiritual inquiries hold no interest for him. (When queried about what he has faith in, Luke's first thought is the advertising logo "Put Your Faith in Foster's.") Eventually, however, he develops a more serious perspective on ultimate mysteries through his friend Fang and through Stan's girlfriend, the aptly named Faith. By the end of the novel, by his own admission, he "even [manages] to figure a couple things out. One. Yeah, everyone is going todie. But first, we get to live." He also realizes that Stan was admirable and universally loved because he " ‘was cool, funny, smart . . . He wasn't afraid of being good.' "A debut novel that's sharp, edgy and slightly skewed-all qualities Luke consummately embodies. Agent: Samantha Haywood/Transatlantic Literary Agency

Product Details

Soho Press, Incorporated
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
7.54(w) x 4.98(h) x 1.00(d)
1040L (what's this?)
Age Range:
14 - 18 Years

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Meet the Author

Joanne Proulx has had short stories published in literary magazines on both sides of the Atlantic, including Exile and Upstairs at Duroc. Anthem of a Reluctant Prophet is her first novel. She lives in Ottawa, Canada.

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Anthem of a Reluctant Prophet 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
harstan More than 1 year ago
In 2002 in Stokum, Michigan, teenager Luke Hunter smokes pot with his friends in the basement of the house of Todd ¿Fang¿ Delaney¿s never home parents when he makes a dark prediction. Luke claims one of them will not make it to school tomorrow because he will be hit by an out of state red van license plate BLU 369 Stan will go heads to head at 8:37 and lose. --- Word quickly gets around that Luke predicted to the nth degree of accuracy Stan¿s death. The media being in its usual uncaring frenzy state assault Stokum for information on the ¿Prophet of Death¿. They stalk Luke and his frightened bewildered parents as the town has become an asylum for the certifiable especially amoral reporters. Luke sees more 'death flashes' that soon become real seven months of death horrifying him as he wants to go back to his formerly mellow but somewhat cynical life. A prescription helps abate the visions even as religious fanatics try to intervene while a mom begs him to find his daughter when all he wants is his dream girl at school to say yes. --- This is a fast-paced young adult contemporary paranormal thriller that focuses deeply on a previously bored teen whose 99.99% of his brain consisted of one icon: girls suddenly he has the curse of seeing in graphic detail the death of someone soon. Thus Luke must cope with his unwanted psychic skills while avoiding the media, the religious nuts, the needy beggars, and even his family and friends whom he frightens. On top of that he is attracted to a girl who seems to reject him making him wonder if she fears his ¿gift¿. ANTHEM OF A RELUCTANT PROPHET is a well written teen angst thriller that leaves some threads unanswered, which implies sequel to me. --- Harriet Klausner
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
m_taylor More than 1 year ago
the writing was interesting, but the plot was kind of predictable. most of the characters didnt really have any soul, and the main character was, well, kind of lame, and so was the girl he liked. she was a bit annoying in my opinion. and one major hole in the plot that really bugged me was when the main character, who had been taking major amounts of a prescription drug for upwards of a month, out of the blue kicked the habit in one sentence and never had any further craving for the pills. that wouldnt happen, and it still bugs me.