4.0 1
by Lisa Rowe Fraustino

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Ash Libby was popular, always surrounded by friends, someone to look up to. But now Ash outrages half the town, suspects his mother of reading his mind, hears Judas the Betrayer on the radio---the bedroom Wes shares with him doesn't exactly feel like the safest place in the world anymore. Ash is falling apart, Wes can't help him, because the Libbys don't even know


Ash Libby was popular, always surrounded by friends, someone to look up to. But now Ash outrages half the town, suspects his mother of reading his mind, hears Judas the Betrayer on the radio---the bedroom Wes shares with him doesn't exactly feel like the safest place in the world anymore. Ash is falling apart, Wes can't help him, because the Libbys don't even know what's wrong. Eventually, Ash's problem unravels and the Libbys put their lives back together. Wes writes about that too in this exceptional and gripping account of a family's ---and a brother's ---pain, and of how someone lives on in spite of it.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Filling a notebook with diary entries addressed to his older brother, Ash, 15-year-old Wes recaps the harrowing events of the last couple of years, prior to Ash's being diagnosed as ``schizoid tended.'' Even as Wes conveys the distress, anger and sorrow he and his family experience, he paints a dense, vibrant picture of life in rural Maine. There his family owns and tends a motor lodge, participates in-and sometimes tries to avoid-services at the local Baptist church, and boogies at the VFW to the music of Ash's band. The narrative, unfortunately, lacks consistency, and genuinely moving or funny momments alternate with predictable, sometimes repetitious scenes. Wes's voice is convincing in its Maine colloquialisms, but can be grating as Fraustino (Grass and Sky) serves up forced jokes (e.g., the many snipes at Wes's sister and her boyfriend, ``the Hormone''; the crude drawings attributed to Wes). More seriously, she resorts to shorthand with respect to several of the novel's more weighty concerns; the topic of incest, for example, is raised several times but never probed. Despite these flaws, however, the novel is a memorable one, both in its colorful evocation of a very particular setting and in its heartfelt observations of a family's shared pain. Ages 12-up. (Apr.)
School Library Journal - School Library Journal
Gr 8 UpWes, 15; his sister Deena, 17; and brother Ash, 18; help their parents operate Libby's Motor Lodge & Campground in Maine. Wes's journal describes the stress the family experiences as they gradually learn that Ash is schizophrenic. Formerly a popular, straight-A student, he withdraws, hears voices, and becomes lost to his family, eventually requiring institutionalization. Following a suicide attempt, Ash recovers enough to live in a group home. Wes writes in a fractured vernacular English. His tendency to capitalize at will makes it sound like he's SHOUTING almost randomly. These stylistic eccentricities coupled with a madcap, nonstop sense of humor make for a narrative that quickly wears thin. Told that his violin vibrato stinks, Wes allows, ``I weren't madyou was right'' and explains later, ``Bathroom acoustics was suppose to improve my ear for music, but I known it was my fingers that stunk.'' The book is illustrated with quirky black-ink cartoons. There's a fair amount of theological pondering, and Ash's difficulties eventually fuel his father's religious conversion. This is a coming-of-age tale about a family trying to save a loved one. They go through hell and emerge somewhere not quite so bad as hell, but not quite so good as where they started out. It's peopled with offbeat characters who seem almost, but not quite, real. Judith Caseley's My Father, the Nutcase (Knopf, 1992), also addresses the problems caused by a family member with mental illness. It is more successful than this book, which seems determined to be funny about a serious subject and isn't.Joel Shoemaker, Southeast Jr. High School, Iowa City, IA
Stephanie Zvirin
Using colloquial language that gives him lots of character but is sometimes tough to interpret, 15-year-old Wes recalls in diary form his older brother's slide into schizophrenia. Wes remembers what Ash was like before (beloved, smart, tough) and after (a frightening presence who talked to himself, hurled vicious insults, and bashed his skull against a door to still the voices in his head). The boys' hardworking, small-town Maine family is an integral part of the novel, with Fraustino capturing their anger, disbelief, guilt, and, most of all, their inability to understand or cope with a nearly grown son who's totally lost his bearings. Religion is a critical story element, too, used intriguingly as a source both of hope and of horror (it's part of Ash's paranoia). Too frenetic, too disjointed, too distant, this lacks the emotional punch of Franklin's "Eclipse" , about a girl who watches her father sink into depression. But there's an earthiness and an unpretentiousness about the situation (the ending is totally realistic) and about what Wes and his family learn from it that command attention and force a rethinking of the notion that "it" only happens to the other guy.

Product Details

Scholastic, Inc.
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
6.20(w) x 8.23(h) x 0.74(d)
910L (what's this?)
Age Range:
12 Years

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Ash 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Chellsseeea More than 1 year ago
In the book Ash, by Lisa Fraustino, the protangonist, Ash, is faced with the trouble of discovering he has a mental illness. Before Ash knew this, he did drugs. So his parents just thought he was acting weird because of the drugs and not a mental illnes. The main conflict of this novel is man vs. self, because Ash has to learn to control his split personality. The rising action of the novel is all the events leading up to Ash and his family discovering his illness. Three things i liked from the book were, the bond between Ash and Westley, the band, the up country boys, and the friendship between Westley and Merle. Ash and Westley have an amazing bond in this book. Ash saved Westley from being hit by a car and from falling "offen" the roof. I think some of the songs and were the up country boys play tell alot about them. the dont really want to be famous they just want to play music together. the friendship between Westley and Merel is test a few times on acount of Ash's illness, but they have a strong love for eachother. in the book it talks about how Merel and Westley snuck into the blueberry factory and never told anyone, and about their secret cabin, and how on Westley's 15th birthday Merel make him this huge sign. Three things I don't like about thins book are, the things Ash does because of his illness, Ash's new band, and how little it seems Deena cares about her brother. Because of Ash's split personality he does some pretty dumb things. He runs naked through Westley's 14th birthday party saying horrible things about Merel, one night he does 'unmentionalbles" to Deena while she was slepping, and he getts into drugs alot. Ash,s new band does more drugs than shows. every song they write has to do with drugs or getting high. Deena cares alot at first about her brother's illnes, but then she starts to not care at all. She calls him things like "ASHhole" or "ASHwhipe". it makes me mad that she loses confidence in her brother.