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From two-time Newbery Honor Award-winning author Bruce Brooks comes this profound and thought-provoking novel of one boy's exploration of religion and love, faith and rebellion. Fourteen-year-old Zimmerman feels misunderstood by friends and family alike—and the pressure to take a stand is building. Navigating a world charged with religious fervor, he struggles to find refuge within his own beliefs. In this multilayered, absorbing story, Brooks delves into the intense world of ...
From two-time Newbery Honor Award-winning author Bruce Brooks comes this profound and thought-provoking novel of one boy's exploration of religion and love, faith and rebellion. Fourteen-year-old Zimmerman feels misunderstood by friends and family alike—and the pressure to take a stand is building. Navigating a world charged with religious fervor, he struggles to find refuge within his own beliefs. In this multilayered, absorbing story, Brooks delves into the intense world of religion and examines what happens when faith is challenged.
Author Biography: Bruce Brooks is a two-time Newbery Honor recipient, in 1985 for The Moves Make the Man, and in 1993 for What Hearts. He has won many other awards and honors, not least of which was being a spazzy assistant coach for his son's travel hockey team. He lives in Burtonsville, Maryland.
A deeply spiritual seventeen-year-old takes a radical step to save himself from the fanaticism of his born-again Christian parents.
With his strong faith and consuming interest in matters of the spirit, Zimmerman has become somewhat alien to his loving but agnostic parents—pot-smoking, successful professionals who occasionally throw out doubts or temptations just to see if he'll waver. He doesn't, until they come back from a vacation converted to a beach sect billed "The Faith of Faiths" by its charismatic founder, Luke Mark John. Suddenly, Zim is idolized, treated with dewy awe by his mother and father, who eventually let slip the news that Luke Mark John wants Zim to be "poster boy for the Faith of Faiths," to lure younger members into the sect. Zim, who has shied away from organized religion to follow a solitary path, looks upon his parents' zeal with a dubious eye, meanwhile delivering keenly intelligent observations on a variety of subjects, from Jesus ("tough, compulsive, brash . . . intense to the point of being frightening, and definitely, definitely, tired") to the dangers of accepting any opinions, even Holy Writ, uncritically. He is at last driven, rather than led, into temptation; in a desperate effort to save himself from the fate his parents have planned for him, he tries for a jail sentence, or at least some tarnish on his spotless reputation, by stealing a rare trading card. Every character here except the protagonist is a caricature, every twist of the story thoroughly laced with irony. While Brooks exhibits, as usual, that he is a born storyteller with a flair for imaginative detailing, plot takes a backseat to theme in this satiric, intellectual exercise.
From the stone doorway of what used to be a dim hardware store and will soon be a bright video rental center, I watch with surprise as the sunlight slants into Ninth Street, reaching between the four-story Wheeler Hotel and the slightly taller spire of the Episcopal church at the east end of downtown, to light up the gutters. The streets are wet. Must have rained last night. Nice sight. But surprising.
I expected no surprises today. This is a day I have planned. It must unfold along critically placed lines creased in advance. No variables; already thought of everything; I know everything. But I did not know to anticipate this rain, which fell while I slept. It is a small thing, it means nothing, it changes nothing. I simply did not think of it in advance. I am angry with myself. But soon enough I realize this may be the effect of nerves; I am not often angry at anyone.
The sun lifts a bit, and the lower edges of the shop windows begin to shine, and now we have moved into the familiar. An alert watcher can see the orderly sequence of illumination, proceeding along the northern side of the street from right to left, as if a silent lamplighter touched a wick at each storefront in turn: the furniture store, the shoe store (full price), the social services agency, the Christian Science Reading Room, the sporting-goods store, the donut shop, the (former) bookstore (now empty, soon to be a chain sub shop), the bank, the coffee shop, the drugstore, the other shoe store (discount), the other bank, and, on the corner, the tavern.
In the middle, between the sporting-goods store and the donut shop, one window breaks the chain, refuses to light up on cue,registers as a dark blip in the center of the sequence. This is because its windows are angled more sharply back from the sidewalk into a deeper doorway: They do not catch the light.But in just ninety seconds, as if in an afterthought, the sun returns to fix this last spot of night hanging on too long. The angled window is found; its low edge gleams thinly; the line of light grows broader; and the shop joins the rest of the street.
Eventually the light reaches a name stenciled on the window, in red paint over silver foil: Kollektible Kards.
Posted August 9, 2009
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