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Following Fake Man

Following Fake Man

4.1 8
by Barbara Ware Holmes

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Homer Aldrich Winthrop was a neurologist who died of a neurological illness. That’s all Homer Jr.’s mother will say about his father, who died when he was 2, and any prodding for details results in silence,
evasion, or sudden migraine headaches. So by age 12, Homer’s given up asking.

But on an unexpected trip to Maine, Homer finds himself


Homer Aldrich Winthrop was a neurologist who died of a neurological illness. That’s all Homer Jr.’s mother will say about his father, who died when he was 2, and any prodding for details results in silence,
evasion, or sudden migraine headaches. So by age 12, Homer’s given up asking.

But on an unexpected trip to Maine, Homer finds himself in a place where his father had lived. In this one coastal village there must be millions of facts about his father. Now Homer must face his biggest fear–maybe there’s a reason his father is such a secret. Maybe there are things he really doesn’t want to know.

Still, Maine gives him courage. There’s something about the people he meets and the breadth of the sky that convince Homer to search for the truth–to solve the mystery of his own life.

From the Hardcover edition.

Editorial Reviews

Twelve-year-old Homer specializes in sulking�which is not surprising, considering that his undemonstrative mother has sent him away to boarding school and won't ever talk with the boy about his dead father. But when mother and son go to Maine for the summer, the mother's reserve starts to crack, as do Homer's defenses against the world. While in Maine, a friendly local boy pulls Homer into a spying scheme that opens an unexpected window into the past. Homer experiences new friendships and freedom, and eventually starts to feel good about himself and his capabilities. The unusual inclusion of pages of funny artwork adds to the enjoyable story, which is ripe with humor and poignancy.
�Kathleen Odean

Publishers Weekly
A young artist yearns to know about his father, who died when he was a baby. "Using strong visual imagery, Holmes adroitly conveys the discord in a household haunted by the past," said PW. Ages 10-up. (Nov.) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Homer Winthrop doesn't know anything about his father except that he was a neurologist who died when Homer was a baby. All he knows about his mother is that she is remote, suffers from headaches, and is bitterly unhappy. Madeleine, the housekeeper, provides what love and parenting Homer has, but that doesn't fill the greater voids in his life. The three travel from Boston to a small town in Maine where Homer's mother secludes herself, and Homer finds his first real friend. Homer and Roger get caught up in the adventure of following someone they refer to as the Fake Man, someone who is obviously in disguise, who carries packages back and forth from their village to an island known for its artist community. Is the Fake Man a drug smuggler? This provides excitement for the two boys until they break into the man's cabin and find a sculpture with Homer's own name on it! What now? Since Homer himself draws all the time and sees everything he looks at with an artist's perception, he understands the genius of the sculpture and realizes it must be his father's work, the father whose name he shares. Could the Fake Man be Homer's father? Did Homer inherit his skill from his father? The answers are more complicated when they are revealed. The cover is intriguing, with a Maine coastal scene inside the silhouette of an otherwise hollow man—the father Homer seeks to know. The discussions of art, of psychological truths, and other demanding topics elevate this otherwise typical story of boys creating mysterious plots during their summer vacation for amusement. The place plays a major part of the story, so it is good that it is illustrated on the cover. KLIATT Codes: J—Recommended forjunior high school students. 2001, Random House/Knopf, 224p, illus, $15.95. Ages 13 to 15. Reviewer: Claire Rosser; May 2001 (Vol. 35 No. 3)
School Library Journal
Gr 5-7-Twelve-year-old Homer doesn't remember his father, who died when Homer was three. Since his mother, the stiff Dr. Winthrop, refuses to talk about anything connected to the past, he has learned to slam questions into his "suitcase brain" to squelch them. However, a summer trip to the family's former home in Maine brings the past rushing back to the present in unexpected ways. The memories drive Homer's mother to bed with another of her frequent migraines. Under the less-strict eye of Madeleine, the housekeeper, Homer is free to form his first real friendship. Roger, a local boy, quickly arouses Homer's curiosity when he reveals that he is following a man wearing a disguise whom he believes to be a smuggler. It soon becomes obvious that there is some connection between "Fake Man" and Homer's parents, and he follows the stranger with the hope of learning the truth. It turns out that the man is a famous artist who disguises himself merely to paint in peace, and that he was Homer's father's best friend. He provides the boy with the much-needed history of his past, and when the two of them confront Homer's mother, it appears that the Winthrops may be able to take the first steps toward building a future together. The strength of this book lies in the characters, and the real jewel is Madeleine, the housekeeper. Her homespun musings provide insight into the other characters and add humor to the story. A genuinely satisfying book about friendship and family.-Leigh Ann Jones, Staley Middle School, Frisco, TX Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.

Product Details

Random House Children's Books
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File size:
5 MB
Age Range:
10 Years

Read an Excerpt

This kid was nursed on a pickle," Madeleine liked to tell anyone who would listen.
Meaning me, of course, Homer Winthrop. "Nursed on a pickle and weaned on prune juice." She said it now, catching a look at my face in her rearview mirror.

Ha ha.

Well, so what? I enjoyed being a pickle. I enjoyed sulking and not talking. I planned to not talk all the way into Maine. But it was going to be hard, I saw as we crossed the bridge into the state. This place was already looking interesting. The river was named the Piscataqua, probably after Indians.

"Pis-CAT-aqua," I said accidentally. "Or PiscaTA-qua. Or, no, PIS-cat-aqua."

"Gesundheit," Madeleine answered.

Don't talk, I reminded myself. I closed my eyes.

"Homer, are you all right?" This was my mother speaking. She'd been spinning around in her seat to at me about once every twenty minutes since we'd left Boston.

I didn't answer, just opened my eyes very wide. I'd done this the whole trip, which was making my eyeballs feel kind of funny, like I might be doing them damage. I wasn't, of course. My mother would have said so if this were the case. She lived to say things like that. Now Madeleine (latest in our long line of housekeepers, drivers, general all-round-
slaves-to-my-mother) was different. When she caught me popping my eyeballs, she just popped hers right back. That was a sight worth seeing. Hers were so poppy you just sort of waited, thinking they'd bounce over the seat and into your lap.

My mother sighed. I closed my eyes again. We started and stopped and started and stopped and drove for a while and then stopped again.

"Lord have mercy," Madeleine said. "At least in Boston the traffic jams while it's still moving!"

"Oh, Madeleine, I believe that's a contradiction in terms."

And there you had it-the perfect example of what was wrong with my mother. Let
Madeleine say something perfectly clear and interesting, and along would come Dr.
Winthrop, the linguist, to pick it apart and take all the fun out of it. My mother heard words instead of what a person was saying. Why bother to talk? I wanted to tell
Madeleine, but that'd be like telling a boat not to float.

I opened my eyes and stared at the back of my mother's head: a circle with a bun in the middle, all perfect and neat. I stared at the boingy-haired triangle sticking out to the tips of her shoulders. A bird could be living in there. A twittery, fluttery bird. I believe those two heads told you all you needed to know. If I were drawing those heads, I'd —

"Oh my," my mother said suddenly. "Oh my, oh my." Her hand tapped away at her chest like one of those fluttery birds.

"Oh my what?" Madeleine asked. "You all right over there?"

My mother nodded, but her hand went on tapping. Madeleine shot her a look. I shot her a few myself. Not much fluttered my mother. In fact, nothing fluttered her except headaches, and those were more like a knockout punch

"Here's where we turn, Madeleine," she said suddenly, her voice sort of shaky and squeaky like I'd never heard it before. "We're on the peninsula. Herring Cove is right at the end of it." I studied the back of her head. A lock of hair had popped out of the bun,
and now her neck looked different. Ridges had appeared at the base of it. Something major was up. Something bigger than a vacation -something much bigger. Which I
should have known since my mother did not take vacations. Since my mother did not usually spin in her seat.

From the Hardcover edition.

Meet the Author

Barbara Ware Holmes has written several books for children. This is her first book for Knopf.

From the Hardcover edition.

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Following Fake Man 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 9 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It sucks
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jellonjerry More than 1 year ago
Bertin, Jeremiah Reading 5 3/20/10 Following Fake Man by Barbara Ware Holmes Following Fake Man was one of the best books I've ever read. It's a great book because it is very suspenseful and mysterious. Some of the more suspenseful parts were when Homer and his new best friend Roger were spying on Fake Man. While I was reading that part of the book, my bones were tingling with excitement and anticipation, waiting to see if Homer and Roger would get caught. Also, when Homer goes to Owl Island, he follows Fake Man to see who he really is. That part is even more suspenseful than the first one because you really, really, REALLY want to find out who Fake Man is. The story is about 12 year old Homer Winthrop. He and his family go to Maine to find out more about his deceased father. The beginning of the book is kind of boring and dull but at the end, the book is really exciting and suspenseful and you finally get to find out who Fake Man really is. I love this book and I hope you will be able to read it, too. I give it 5 stars out of 5.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Homer Winthrop is just your regular fourteen-year-old boy. On a trip to Maine with his mother and maid though, he finds something strange about the place. Homer gets the feeling he has been to the place before. He doesn¿t know much about his father. He died when Homer was very young, and Homer¿s mother doesn¿t talk about him. All Homer¿s mother has told him is that his father died of an illness. While in Maine, Homer has a feeling his father has been to this place also. He thinks if he looks hard enough, he will be able to dig up some information of his mysterious dead father. One day while driving through town, the family¿s car hits a man. The man gets up and looks at Homer¿s mother. The man runs off, and Homer¿s mother tells Madeline, the maid and driver, to just keep driving. Homer begins to think there are some ties between this strange man and his mother. He then goes on to think that both of them have to do with his father, so Homer begins to investigate. Homer meets Roger Sweeney, a boy that is also curious about the strange man (a.k.a. Fake Man). Roger has seen him use multiple alias names, limp one moment and walk the next, and in many disguises. Both of them follow Fake Man to his cabin, and they come back later when he¿s gone. The cabin is completely run down except for one well-kept little room. In it, Homer finds a statue and painting by his father, Homer Winthrop senior. Homer now has some questions answered, like his father must have been a painter, but now he becomes even more suspicious with more questions. He begins to believe that since Fake Man has many of his father¿s artworks that he must have, at one time, known his father. Homer decides to follow Fake Man to a neighboring island one day by himself. Everything is fine until Fake Man catches him. How will Fake Man react? Will Homer get away? What is the big secret that keeps Homer¿s mother from telling Homer the truth about his father? And is there more between the Fake Man and Homer¿s father than what Homer thought? You¿ll have to read Following Fake Man to find out. Following Fake Man was quite a superb book. Barbara Ware Holmes, author, has a magnificent way of writing her book. This book is full of twists and turns that all leads up a dramatic ending that will leave you yearning for more. This book has the might of mystery with the audaciousness of adventures intertwined into one fantastic book. It will be a great choice for anyone who can handle a little mystery and adventure to their diet. Any reader will surly like this book and won¿t be able to put it down.
Guest More than 1 year ago
At the begining of the book it was realy boring. But as i read on it got better but never got really good. They gave too much information. They discribed some stuff to much.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was not what I was expecting. In other words this book had a great story line to it. The boy in the story was named Homer Winthrop, and guided me through this book. He was more of an exciting teacher who would lead me into an adventure, more like a mystery. This book led me through situations believing that i was actually there in the situation. I didnt want to let the book down, because it also taught me a lot about myself. To me it was more than a story, but a story with in its self. As you can see i would recomend this book to others, because it might just change your life.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I read this book when I was about 11 years old. It was easily the best book I have ever read. It's very mysterious. The boy in the story moves to a house where his dad (who he doesn't have anymore) used to live. This is his chance to find out about his missing dad because his mom will never talk about him.