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5.0 15
by Will Weaver

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"It's not the big, tragic things in life that do you in-"

For Jed Berg, life is good: He's landed a major girlfriend, made number onesingles in varsity tennis, and his father lets him drive his 1969 Camaro. Sweet.

Then a punk chick with pink hair enters Jed's life. She calls herself Gertrude, but something about that doesn't sound quite right. She begins


"It's not the big, tragic things in life that do you in-"

For Jed Berg, life is good: He's landed a major girlfriend, made number onesingles in varsity tennis, and his father lets him drive his 1969 Camaro. Sweet.

Then a punk chick with pink hair enters Jed's life. She calls herself Gertrude, but something about that doesn't sound quite right. She begins to tell Jed things — things about himself, about his father — that make him very uneasy. He tries to ignore her, but she won't go away. Neither will the thoughts she's put into his head. As Jed searches for the truth about Gertrude, he begins to question the reality of his own life. The truth just might drive him mad.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
A popular teen and tennis champ meets a "punk chick" who informs him that his father is having an affair with her mother. "This tension-filled novel about a teen's downward spiral will almost certainly hit a nerve," wrote PW. Ages 13-up. (Jan.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
To quote the review in KLIATT, March 2003: Life has always gone smoothly for Jed, a popular 16-year-old junior at a Minnesota high school, until the day a "punk chick with pink hair" unexpectedly tells him "Your father is sleeping with my mother." She wants Jed to break up the affair, and threatens to go public with the information otherwise. Jed and the girl, Laura, meet several times, commiserating in their misery over this unwanted knowledge and learning more about each other's lives. They even start to become romantically involved themselves. Eventually, they confront their parents. Jed's father moves out, and Jed, miserable and angry, starts to get into trouble at school. Laura's unstable younger sister has an even more dramatic response to the breakup of her family. She takes off in a kayak, intending to paddle to a new life in Canada. Jed and Laura race off to rescue her, and they all get caught in a terrible storm, with tragic consequences. This is a highly melodramatic tale, though it's well told. Jed and Laura's anguished responses to the knowledge of their parents' affair ring true, even if the action-packed ending is over the top. Weaver, author of such YA novels as Memory Boy and Hard Ball, manages to keep the suspense high throughout. KLIATT Codes: JS—Recommended for junior and senior high school students. 2001, HarperTempest, 232p., Ages 12 to 18.
—Paula Rohrlick
Despite a title that sounds more appropriate for a Paul Zindel gross-out tome, this coming-of-age novel is extraordinary. Jed begins by telling about his brighter-than-light good life, including his "landing a major girlfriend," but everything comes crashing down when he learns that his father is having an affair. The bearer of this news is Laura, a.k.a. the Weird Girl, whose mother is the object of Jed's father's affection. Both teens are angry at their parents' deceit, with Laura pushing Jed to confront his father. As the marriages of both sets of parents break apart when the affair is revealed, Laura and Jed grow closer, falling in love and beginning to live happily ever after, until Laura is killed in a tragic accident, forcing Jed to pull deep within himself to find an inner strength that he did not know he had. The book ends with Jed obsessing over a Sims-like computer game, where he relearns lessons about what one can and cannot control in life. There are big themes common to coming-of-age stories mixed here with fascinating, unique little details that are uncommon in young adult literature, such as Jed's rules for surfing Internet porn and his discovery of his mother's vibrator. Although the cover featuring a canoe might lead the reader to think that this book, like many of Weaver's earlier works, is a sports-adventure story, sports merely provides a backdrop and metaphor for the conflict happening inside the strong, yet sensitive, male teen characters. The novel is really a trip inside the heart and soul of a teen boy's journey to becoming a man. PLB
— Patrick Jones
School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up-Jed Berg's life is perfect. A junior in high school, he is an honors student, and has a senior as a girlfriend and the top singles position on the varsity tennis team. All of his friends are in awe of his close relationship with his architect father and his attorney mother. Then he receives an e-mail from a girl who demands that he confront his father about the affair he is having with her mother, and Jed's perfect world starts to disintegrate. Weaver's wonderful use of language ably reflects the teen's turmoil as his anger and hurt about his father's behavior spills over into his daily life, and he soon finds himself in detention for punching out his locker. This is just the start of Jed's troubles. His friends and family are shocked and it takes a girl in detention to put his situation in perspective when she quips, "preppies in a downward spiral are fun to watch." The novel, a character study of Jed, follows him through his spiral as events spin out of his control. The other characters aren't as strongly developed but that is to be expected since it is his reactions that are at the center of the book. This is a good choice for fans of more serious realistic fiction, such as Alex Flinn's Breaking Point (HarperCollins, 2002) or Laurie Halse Anderson's Catalyst (Viking, 2002).-Betsy Fraser, Calgary Public Library, Canada Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A Minnesota teen who thinks he leads the perfect life finds out that he doesn�t. All is golden for Jed: he�s number one on the tennis team; his father lets him drive his muscle Camaro; he�s got the prettiest girl in school adorning the passenger seat; his parents are rich, beautiful, and successful. All is golden, that is, until a mysterious girl demands a meeting one day to tell him that his father is having an affair with her mother--and suddenly all of Jed�s assumptions fly out the window. As he pursues the truth of the matter, his life begins to unravel, and he learns that he is just as subject to human misery as anyone else. Weaver (Memory Boy, 2001, etc.) succeeds beautifully in limning the raw emotions of a family under stress and in creating a brutally honest voice for his protagonist. When Jed comes home from school the day after his father moves out, his mother "suddenly began to weep. I crossed the foyer and held her. It was the least I could do. But it pissed me off, and she felt frail and sharp boned and lost, and something in my heart turned cold." Weaver is less successful at developing the relationship between Jed and Laura, the girl who tells him of the affair. Their e-relationship is convincing, as is their growing attachment to each other, but the focus on emotion is wrenched off-course when Laura�s troubled little sister tries to paddle away to Canada and she and Jed pursue her through the Boundary Waters in a canoe. This diversion into outdoor adventure does another U-turn when their rescue ends in tragedy, and Jed ends up living in his bedroom, obsessed with a computer game in which he designs a family of total losers. Didactically appropriate, this apocalypticending nevertheless betrays the emotional honesty of the first half of the story. Worthwhile, but a pity about the trifurcated personality. (Fiction. YA)

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Edition description:
Product dimensions:
(w) x 7.12(h) x (d)
Age Range:
13 - 17 Years

Meet the Author

Will Weaver is an award-winning fiction writer. His latest novel is The Survivors, a sequel to his popular young adult novel Memory Boy. His other books include Full Service, Defect, Saturday Night Dirt, Super Stock Rookie, Checkered Flag Cheater, Claws, and the Billy Baggs books Striking Out, Farm Team, and Hard Ball, all of which are ALA Best Books for Young Adults. Formerly an English professor at Bemidji State University, he lives in northern Minnesota, a region he writes from and loves. He is an avid outdoorsman and enjoys hunting, fishing, canoeing, and hiking with his family and friends.

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Claws 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 15 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
i read this book a couple years ago and loved it. it was the best book that ive ever read. i cried at the end it was so sad
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
I'm in middle school and i read claws it was a good book i don't like to read. But this book was great i couldn't put it down it just sucked me right into it i read it in 3 days it's a little depressing at the end.And it was very suspensaul meaning you didn't know what going to happen next.I told my friends to read this they did and they thought it was good to.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was so good and I think thta htis book can relate to so many teens that go through these things. I thought it was so unexpected that they were likin each other yet very perfect. I loved everything about it except fot the ending I cried reading the ending,I wanted them to fallin love and everything jusdt to end perfectly but other then excellent book. I would defenitely recommend this book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I am a Media Specialist. I have recommended this book to many students. They all come back (the next day) to tell me how much they loved the book, but hated the ending.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Claws is an amazing book. Right now I am trying to incourage my teacher to read it to the class next year. I love it and it isnt hard to understand.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The book was alot liek my life in which my mom had an affair with my dad and they went through a divorce. I cannot understand how he went through the things he did, the ending is such a tear jerker, it really was a book i did'nt put down until i was done.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
great book. couldnt put it down. read it for 5 hours straight. i cried at the ending and got really pissed off. sadest ending ever. makes me think about my own life.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was so good! I didn't wanna put ot down, you just HAVE to keep turning the pages it's so good! It also has kind of a twist ending..I sooo wasn't expecting that!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
this book is so fantastic it will make u cry i luv it
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is by far the best book ever. I also play tennis and I know how it feels going through a divorce. And having people like you just for what u drive. When i read this book I felt that I could relate to what Jed was feeling and what he was going through.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I thought this book was absolutly wonderful, it had everything a good book needs, great character development, drama, suspence, and the most outstanding ending I have ever read before. A really great book I would recommend it to everyone.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I am also a tennis player and i know how hard it can be to stand up for your spot and i felt, as when i was reading this that i couldnt put it down. It was relating around me and whats been going on in my life. During the part of the camping part was the most emotional part in the whole story and when that heilcopter flew down, i could feel my heart fall the same way. I read that part over and over again until it finally sunk in that she did die. At the end was not an ending i was hoping for but it was a good part to end at and i hope Will Weaver will make another books like Claws 2 or something so we see how the family works out at the end. I know i will be buying this book soon!