Finn by Matthew Olshan | Hardcover | Barnes & Noble
Finn: A Novel

Finn: A Novel

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by Matthew Olshan
     
 

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Imagine a modern-day retelling of Mark Twain's classic The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, with a teenage girl and a very pregnant young Mexican as the main characters. That's the gist of Matthew Olshan's brilliant literary debut, Finn: a novel.

The book's narrator is Chloe Wilder, a quiet girl, part tomboy, part survivor. Rescued from a murderous life with her

Overview

Imagine a modern-day retelling of Mark Twain's classic The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, with a teenage girl and a very pregnant young Mexican as the main characters. That's the gist of Matthew Olshan's brilliant literary debut, Finn: a novel.

The book's narrator is Chloe Wilder, a quiet girl, part tomboy, part survivor. Rescued from a murderous life with her mother, Chloe lives with her grandparents in the cocoon of a quiet, middle-class neighborhood. For the first time in her life, things are steady, safe-and stifling.

Enter Silvia Morales, the grandparents' maid. Silvia is an illegal immigrant, but that's not her only secret: she's also pregnant, a transgression which gets her kicked out of the house. Not long after, Chloe is torn from her quiet life, too, and forced to live on the run.

While Finn: a novel is about Chloe and Silvia's comic mishaps on the road-and their brushes with real danger-it's also a dark portrait of modern America, where smug suburbanites live minutes away from the wilderness of inner cities, and once-mighty rivers meander under superhighways.

Young people will read Finn: a novel as a good, old-fashioned adventure story. Adults will read it as nuanced social criticism. But virtually every reader will see in Chloe Wilder a resilient, funny, and complex heroine for our time.

Look for Finn: a novel to generate some of the same controversy that still surrounds Twain's Huckleberry Finn, the sixth most banned book in the United States in the year 2000. The characterization of Silvia Morales, Chloe Wilder's Latina "partner in crime," is likely to spark an up-to-the-minute debate about racism in America. Olshan's novel raises the question: what will it take for young people to unlearn their nation's unconscious racial hostility?

Editorial Reviews

Booklist
Set in a thoroughly modern context, this inventive, affectionate homage to Mark Twain's classic about Huck Finn clearly illustrates that prejudice still affects human understanding, behavior, and language. Like Huck's journey, Chloe's is both a multilayered story of personal growth and an entertaining, provocative satire that explores society, culture, and humankind's occasionally ironic notions of freedom and progress. …

Olshan's creative prose shines in Chloe's sharp, intimate, funny narrative, which is filled with vivid observations, philosophical musings, and insights into the world and people around her. Teens who have read Twain's book will appreciate Olshan's direct references and parallels; those who haven't will like the action and the heroine's resourcefulness. The book's satire and cynicism may create controversy and strike some readers as harsh, but the novel effectively raises awareness of contemporary social concerns, and, like the classic, is certain to invite both thought and discussion.

Kliatt
Feisty teenage Chloe is fearless and resourceful but believably naïve in some respects; when she returns to her grandparents from her adventures, she does so with new perspectives on camaraderie, racism, and the underbelly of America's cities. The sections dealing with her experiences in the railroad yard are particularly strong, with a memorably nightmarish feel about them… For those unfamiliar with Twain, this first novel will work as an adventure story. Readers who know Adventures of Huckleberry Finn might enjoy searching out the parallels and differences…A novel to ponder and discuss.
School Library Journal
Stereotypes of ethnic, religious, and racial groups abound; some fit in the context of Chloe's observations of her surroundings, while others are left for readers to ponder ... The book is written in short chapters that will appeal to reluctant readers. Chloe is a spirited, resourceful, observant, and humorous heroine who will keep readers interested until the end, when things are wrapped up neatly, but believably
Voya
…Telling the story from Chloe's perspective makes the improbable seem plausible. Vivid descriptions and realistic details involve the reader. Chloe and Silvia are counterparts of Twain's Huck and Jim, and their adventures echo those of their fictional predecessors. Young readers will admire Chloe, who overcomes adversity and is clever, perceptive, and vulnerable. Her story is funny, pathetic, and engrossing.
With the help of her grandparents, teenager Chloe has left her violent childhood behind and gotten a new start. But when her stepfather and abusive mother reappear, Chloe decides to run away for good—accompanied by her Silvia, her grandparents' pregnant Hispanic maid. Traveling through slums and suburbs, Chloe encounters a host of people from all walks of life, who reveal to her that people, places, and experiences are not always what they appear. This story is a clever, affectionate homage to Mark Twain. Like Huckleberry Finn, Chloe is awakened to injustice and hypocrisy, but also finds hope in good-hearted people, and their ability to connect with others. Students familiar with The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn will appreciate the many parallels this novel has to the classic. One disappointing drawback, though, is Olshan's tendency to rely upon ethnic, racial, and religious stereotypes in depicting some of the characters Chloe encounters. Nonetheless, the spirited, resourceful, observant, and witty Chloe is a heroine who will keep readers engaged and interested. 2001, Bancroft Press, 188 pp.,
— Ed Sullivan
VOYA
Teenaged Chloe enjoys a fairly comfortable life with her wealthy grandparents until they dismiss their maid Silvia because she is pregnant. When Chloe is kidnapped by her estranged, despicable mother, she fakes her own death to escape, and she and Silvia become fugitives together. Silvia's condition and lack of citizenship papers complicate their misadventures. They plan to drive to California to find Roberto, the father of Silvia's baby, but end up circling the city all night. When they lose "their" car and must flee on foot, Chloe gets a short haircut and becomes "Finn." After an unpleasant encounter with an unsavory character, the pair is befriended by a street kid and experience the seamy side of city life. Eventually, Marian, Chloe's eccentric classmate, offers financial assistance just when Silvia begins to deliver the long-overdue baby. When Roberto shows up and reveals that he and Silvia are married, the grandparents pledge to try harder to be a family for Chloe as her mother flees to Mexico. The plot has some weak points, but telling the story from Chloe's perspective makes the improbable seem plausible. Vivid descriptions and realistic details involve the reader. Chloe and Silvia are counterparts of Twain's Huck and Jim, and their adventures echo those of their fictional predecessors. Young readers will admire Chloe, who overcomes adversity and is clever, perceptive, and vulnerable. Her story is funny, pathetic, and engrossing. Will an international border deter Chloe's mother, who is "capable of anything"? A sequel seems likely, Trade pb. VOYA CODES: 3Q 4P M J S (Readable without serious defects; Broad general YA appeal; Middle School, defined as grades 6 to 8; JuniorHigh, defined as grades 7 to 9; Senior High, defined as grades 10 to 12). 2000, Bancroft, 243p, . Ages 12 to 18. Reviewer: Sherry York SOURCE: VOYA, April 2001 (Vol. 24, No.1)
School Library Journal - School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up-This recording of Matthew Olshan's first novel (Bancroft, 2001) is read by the author. Finn is a fairly straightforward re-telling of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, set in modern times. Chloe Wilder, who lives with her grandparents, is kidnapped by her abusive mother and her mother's boyfriend. She fakes her own death, escapes from them, and heads for California along with her grandparents' pregnant Mexican maid, Silvia. Chloe and Silvia never quite manage to get out of their unnamed Eastern city, but they do have numerous adventures along the way. The story is told in the first person by Chloe, so it is somewhat disconcerting at first to hear it read by an adult male voice. Olshan does a fine job of reading his novel, however, and gets the expressions just right. The quality of the recording is not as clean and professional as those done by the larger audiobook producers. Frequent mouth noises, swallowing, breath noises, and page-turning is heard, and there is background hiss.-Sarah Flowers, Santa Clara County Library, Morgan Hill, CA Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780613598064
Publisher:
Turtleback Books: A Division of Sanval
Publication date:
12/01/2003
Pages:
180
Product dimensions:
5.92(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.72(d)
Age Range:
12 - 17 Years

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