The times they are a-changin' . . . The summer that Paul turns sixteen his mother pushes him to take a job in town instead of just working on the family farm. “You need to meet the public,” she says, which is saying a lot for a woman deeply committed to the tightly knit religious community to which they belong. And meet the public Paul does: He meets Kirk, the angry gas station manager; Harry, a reclusive and kindly gangster; and a family of hippies passing in a yellow peace van to San Francisco. He also meets ...
The times they are a-changin' . . . The summer that Paul turns sixteen his mother pushes him to take a job in town instead of just working on the family farm. “You need to meet the public,” she says, which is saying a lot for a woman deeply committed to the tightly knit religious community to which they belong. And meet the public Paul does: He meets Kirk, the angry gas station manager; Harry, a reclusive and kindly gangster; and a family of hippies passing in a yellow peace van to San Francisco. He also meets beautiful Peggy, a high school sensation, and dark-haired Dale, her onthe-
side boyfriend who is headed to Vietnam. All of them come to the station – as well as girls on summer vacation, tanned and smelling of coconut oil, and ministers from Paul’s fundamentalist church, who are worried about his soul. As the summer progresses, Paul learns the secrets of his small Minnesota town and discovers that he’s ready to have a few secrets of his own.
With richly developed characters and a flair for arresting imagery, Will Weaver tells the story of the end of one boy’s innocence, unfolding at a time when the country as a whole is undergoing a difficult, deeply disturbing coming-of-age.
Weaver once again makes the most of the rural Midwestern settings and quiet moral dilemmas he used to such strong effect in his baseball trilogy (Striking Out; Farm Team; Hard Ball) in this intimate coming-of-age novel set in 1965 Minnesota. Farm boy Paul Sutton, who narrates, has been sheltered by his strict, religious parents. He gets his first opportunity to "meet the public" when he takes a job at a Shell filling station in the nearby town of Hawk Bend the summer he turns 16. Paul's horizons are indeed broadened by the people with whom he works (fatherly Mr. Davies, the owner, and Kirk, the womanizing manager), and the author crafts gem-like vignettes of his encounters with the locals and tourists who frequent the service station (one especially memorable exchange is with a woman driving a Mercedes coupe whose husband has just left her). Paul befriends a retired gangster, becomes involved in a love triangle among three recent high-school graduates and hears differing opinions about America's involvement in the Vietnam War. Perhaps Paul is most influenced by a family of hippies, who end up staying on the Suttons' farm after their bus breaks down. Exposed to new values and beliefs, Paul begins to question what he has been taught by his parents. Despite the story's setting in the past, Paul's quiet rebellion, fueled by a variety of profound encounters, expresses universal truths about growing pains, teen desires and new insights he has gained. Ages 12-up. (Oct.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Weaver returns to the farm country of rural Minnesota (familiar to readers of the Billy Baggs Trilogy—Striking Out, Farm Team, and Hard Ball) for this story of a farm boy working in town one summer, the summer he turns 16. Weaver is a professor of English and his carefully polished vignettes about Paul and the people he meets this summer—the characters at the gas station where he works, the hippies camped on Paul's family farm, the convict who helps out his parents to make up for Paul's absence—quietly pull in the reader. In the quiet there is humor, absurdities, pathos, and the full-range of adolescent angst. Not only is Paul at the beginning of the summer a shy, naive farm boy, his family are members of an extremely rigid fundamentalist church; by the end of the summer, it is expected that he will be baptized as a full member. Instead, he makes out with the hippies' daughter, wonders about the ethics of a loveable gangster who frequents the gas station, witnesses a series of petty crimes and betrayals, abandons his Bible reading, gets his driver's license, and begins to think about the world beyond his little town. The setting is the 1960s, at the time of the Vietnam War, but similar experiences could be happening this summer to another boy in an isolated small town, wondering about the Iraq War. KLIATT Codes: JS—Recommended for junior and senior high school students. 2005, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 232p., Ages 12 to 18.
In the summer of 1965, sixteen-year-old Paul Sutton, a bright but shy Minnesota farm boy, takes a job in town pumping gas. His mother encouraged him to do so because she felt that he needed to "meet the public." He meets, Kirk the hot-headed station manager; Harry, a reclusive and kindly gangster; the Knutson-Bender rivalry for beautiful Peggy; the girls on summer vacation; and a van of hippies passing through in a yellow peace van on the way to San Francisco. He learns the secrets of his small town are far more than he ever expected. He is ready to have a few secrets of his own when he discovers girls in a disturbing coming-of age and has to deal with the ministers from his fundamentalist religious community who are worried about his soul. The author richly develops his characters so that readers will feel a kinship to persons in their own towns. This is a book for boys that may have to be introduced by a librarian or teacher. The cover, with its 1965 look, may get lost if not promoted by book talks. But having read this one, the reader may want to read other titles by the same author. 2005, Farrar Straus Giroux, Ages 15 to 18.
School Library Journal
Gr 8 Up-The summer of '65 sizzles for high school sophomore-to-be Paul and his rural Minnesota family. They are members of a nondenominational Christian sect that practices communal farm work and fellowship. At his mother's urging, Paul lands a job in town at the Shell station where assorted bamboozlers give his worldview a whack upside the head. Will members of his sect condone Paul's worldly contact? Will he bring trouble upon himself for facilitating a fling between a beautiful schoolmate and the town bad boy? Or will his moral undoing be at the hands of Janet, 16, eldest child of the hippie couple who Dad charitably invites to camp at the farm while they repair their van? Teens will likely relate to details such as Paul's secretly listening to the radio under the blankets at night and his razor-sharp observations of his loving father. Male readers, especially, may be hooked by the steamy bits and will be rewarded by a cast of carefully shaped, diverse characters who illuminate important truths about that confusing time when Vietnam began to grow in the nation's collective consciousness as a constant, if hazy, backdrop to everything. The warm, affirming denouement suggests that life's highway is endlessly fascinating, frequently challenging, and bound to include some unanticipated bumps and detours.-Joel Shoemaker, Southeast Junior High School, Iowa City, IA Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
A northern Minnesota small town in 1965 is the setting for Paul's summer of growing maturity while working at a Shell full-service gas station. Weaver's ability to recreate scenes from the past with accurate detail and the immediacy of a teen point of view has been demonstrated before, but this time it's pitch perfect. Once again, we have the odd and very religious family, and a freshman boy discovering various sins that his previously sheltered life did not include. It's all here: drag racing, adultery and theft by coworkers, a retired Chicago mobster who may be a murderer and the constant temptations of sex. Most notable is the parents' awareness of the world at large and their ability to practice their Christian concepts of acceptance and charity in ways that are unpopular with almost everyone, including Paul. It's unusual to see individual conscience modeled without preachiness, and without endorsing any particular beliefs. At summer's end, Paul has gained more than experience and knowledge of the world, but come to terms with an internal ethic he didn't know he had. Superb. (Fiction. YA)
Author of Red Earth, White Earth and A Gravestone Made of Wheat, Will Weaver grew up in northern Minnesota on a dairy farm. The sometimes harsh and beautiful landscape of farm and small town life figures strongly in his writing. SweetLand, an independent feature film adaptation of his story “Gravestone Made of Wheat”, and starring Ned Beatty, premiered in October of 2006.
Weaver is also known for his young adult fiction. His character Billy Baggs, a teenage farm boy baseball phenom, earned his way into the hearts of teen readers in the series Striking Out, Farm Team, and Hard Ball. Each novel has won numerous awards, including being named an ALA Best Book for Young Adults. Memory Boy, a post-apocalyptic novel based on environmental collapse, is used across the curriculum in many junior and senior high schools.
Claws, a novel set in northeastern Minnesota (Duluth and the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness) features outdoor survival with a strong family back story. Weaver’s Full Service won starred reviews (Kirkus Reviews and The Horn Book) for its focus on a young man struggling with matters of religious faith and doubt, all complicated by his first “real” summer job, at a gas station, where he “meets the public” in all its variety. Defect, a novel about a teenager born with a miraculous birth abnormality, highlights what one reviewer from The St. Paul Pioneer Press called “the humanity and decency that runs through all of Weaver’s work.”.
As an author, Mr. Weaver is particularly concerned with youth literacy and keeping kids reading. His new MOTOR series addresses a group of underserved young adult readers: kids who love cars. His new novel Saturday Night Dirt and its sequel, Super Stock Rookie, focus on dirt track stock car racing. The series starts with a close focus on a small town speedway and the cast of colorful characters who come there to race on Saturday nights. One of the characters, sixteen-year-old Trace Bonham, is a natural driver with dreams of racing professionally. The MOTOR series follows Trace’s on his path toward getting a “ride” (a sponsored race car) and competing at the highest level he can. While these auto racing novels will certainly appeal to boys, Weaver’s novels always contain a diverse cast of characters. Auto racing is one of the few sports that gives no gender advantage, and the MOTOR series also includes a positive and realistic portrayal of young women involved in racing.
Along with the MOTOR series of novels, Weaver has formed a stock car racing team with a teenaged driver. His black No. 16 Modified race car, co-sponsored by Farrar, Straus & Giroux publishers, is driven by Skyler Smith of Bemidji. Team Weaver races in the WISSOTA circuit in the upper Midwest. You can learn more about the Skyler, the race car and the MOTOR series at www.motornovels.com.
An avid outdoorsman, Will Weaver lives with his wife on the Mississippi River in northern Minnesota.