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Gil Marsh

Gil Marsh

3.5 2
by A.C.E. Bauer

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Good looking, athletic, and smart, Gil Marsh is the most popular kid at Uruk High School. When Enko, a new kid from Montreal, shows up, Gil is wary. Yet Enko is easy going and matches Gil's athletic prowess without being a threat. Soon, the two become inseparable friends, practicing, studying, and double-dating. 

Then suddenly, to everyone's shock, Enko


Good looking, athletic, and smart, Gil Marsh is the most popular kid at Uruk High School. When Enko, a new kid from Montreal, shows up, Gil is wary. Yet Enko is easy going and matches Gil's athletic prowess without being a threat. Soon, the two become inseparable friends, practicing, studying, and double-dating. 

Then suddenly, to everyone's shock, Enko succombs to an aggressive cancer. 

When Enko's parents return to Canada, Gil is unable to even say good bye. He is inconsolable. Determined to find Enko's grave, Gil sneaks away and heads north. 

Bauer's retelling of  the Sumerian King from 3000 BC, carefully weaves the classic elements of myth to follow Gil's quest and explore the grief and growth of a young man.

Editorial Reviews

VOYA - Barbara Allen
In this modern retelling of the trials and tribulations of Gilgamesh, Bauer describes a friendship that is too big for the book. Enko Labette has just recently moved from Canada to America, where Gil is the reigning track star, but Enko is bigger, better, and faster. Gil becomes jealous when Enko joins Gil on his morning runs, but they strike up a friendship and very quickly become inseparable. Gil is hurt and cannot run in the state championship, so Enko does it for him. Enko gives Gil a precious heirloom garnet ring in honor of their friendship; the ring has a legend of being made by an immortal man. Soon after, Enko gets sick and dies, and Gil is heartbroken. His parents will not let him go to the funeral or the grave site in Quebec, so Gil tricks them into thinking he is going to a track retreat and instead hops a bus to Canada. Speaking little French, he relies on a stranger to help him get to Enko's hometown and grave, but she tricks him and takes most of his money. Gil becomes obsessed with finding the origin of the ring to find out if the legend is true. He is mugged, and the ring is stolen, but he is determined to find the maker in hopes that somehow he can bring Enko back. Bauer writes a good tale, but the relationship seems rushed. The two boys get very close in a very short amount of time. If only high school relationships were actually that strong... But the tale of Gil trying to find his way in Canada is heart-warming. He seems to get help just when he needs it and endures more than most adults would in his quest. At times, the reader might even want him to give up and just go home, but he just keeps going. He gives his all to complete his self-given mission, to find a way to make peace with the death of the greatest friend he has ever had. Reviewer: Barbara Allen
VOYA - Devin Johnson
Bauer's story is close to the original Gilgamesh tale, with a few twists. First, Gilgamesh wishes to find immortality for himself, while Gil wishes to bring his best friend back to life. Also, what was acceptable for the hero of the earliest known written piece of fiction has different connotations now. When Gil texts Enko, "I'll dream of you," even this reader found it odd. Not that a homosexual relationship would be wrong, but the author went about it the wrong way, trying to portray the duo as close friends. Another major problem is that the story advances much too quickly. Months of events are described in less than ten pages. Overall, the book feels rushed and improperly converted from the original story. This book is not recommended. Reviewer: Devin Johnson, Teen Reviewer
School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up—Popular, athletic, and good looking, Gil Marsh is at the top of the pecking order at Uruk High until Enko Labette arrives from Quebec. At first, he threatens Gil's status, but after Gil gets over his jealousy, the two become best friends. After Enko is quickly lost to aggressive leukemia, his body is returned to Quebec before Gil has a chance to say a proper goodbye. The grieving teen is determined to go in search of his friend's grave, though what he really wants is to have Enko back. During his journey, he is beaten, robbed, and cheated, but he also experiences the compassionate side of humanity as he wrestles with thoughts of life and death. If the strange names, the story of male friendship, and mythological quest sound familiar, it's because Bauer is retelling the epic of Gilgamesh, supposedly the oldest story every written. This contemporary version is loosely based on the legend, with names, places, and elements throughout that echo the original. The novel is plot-driven and retains a mythlike quality. A worthy addition.—Patricia N. McClune, Conestoga Valley High School, Lancaster, PA
Kirkus Reviews
Smart, handsome, athletic Gil Marsh, 17, hero of this contemporary take on the Gilgamesh epic (and first literary bromance) thinks he has no competition. Then hirsute Enko Labette shows up at Uruk High. More than Gil's equal, Enko's popular, too. Infuriated, Gil provokes a physical confrontation that clears the air and, as the cliché provides, cements an intense, lasting bond between them. As in the epic, Bauer offers hints but ultimately punts on whether that bond is sexual. (Both date girls, but the boys' passionate friendship is paramount.) After a few brief adventures, Enko succumbs to a sudden illness and dies. Grief-stricken, Gil flees high school in Connecticut for Canada, seeking Enko's grave and the provenance of the garnet ring, a family heirloom, Enko gave him. Here the plot slows to a crawl. Though interspersed with evocative tidbits of Québécois history and culture, Gil's quest, goals and expectations lack urgency and clarity. Does he really believe he can restore Enko to life? Enko himself fades into irrelevance as Gil's focus turns to daily survival. Simple vocabulary, staccato style and straightforward syntax convey classic appeal and make this a good choice for reluctant readers. Genuine strengths include a likable hero and vivid sense of place. What's ultimately lacking, though, is a compelling link between myth and contemporary tale. (French glossary, author's note) (Fiction. 12 & up)

Product Details

Random House Children's Books
Publication date:
Edition description:
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.10(h) x 0.50(d)
Age Range:
12 Years

Read an Excerpt


Gil Marsh

First day of school. Coach yelled from across the field. “Marsh! Meet our latest recruit.”

Gil stopped stretching and jogged over. Coach spoke to a boy dressed in a running tank and shorts. Thick black hair covered the boy’s knuckles and arms. It poked out from his chest, his shoulders and neck. It covered his legs. A beast boy, Gil thought.

“. . . help you out. He’s one of our best runners.” Coach turned to Gil. “Marsh, this is Enko Labette. He’s from Quebec.”

Hmph. Gil wasn’t one of the cross-­country team’s best runners. He was the best. No one else came close. He had led James E. Uruk High School to Nationals two years in a row.

“Hi,” Gil said.

Enko extended his hand in an oddly formal gesture. Gil shook it.

Enko had a powerful grip—­a ring on his pinky finger dug in slightly. He smiled, producing a deep dimple in his chin. He was trying hard to impress.

Well, let’s see what the beast boy could do.

“You follow me,” Gil told him.

He started the warm-­up jog just a notch faster than usual. Enko didn’t break a sweat.

“Round the back, over the Rock!” Coach yelled to the team. “No clock today. Keep to the running trail. I want it clean and even.”

Clock or no, Gil took off, in a sprint now, almost at racing speed.

Enko followed.

They circled around the back of the school to one of the paths along the Green Valley Creek, over the footbridge to cross the water, then up the side of Overhang Rock. The other boys lagged behind.

Overhang Rock stood three hundred feet above town. Made of exposed, weathered red stone, it had a war memorial at the top, erected some ninety years ago by a veterans’ group. A running trail wound alongside a road that led to the memorial.

Gil ignored the running trail and chose a hiking path that switchbacked in the other direction, zigzagging at sharp angles around and up the other side of the Rock. At a walk, the trail provided a small challenge. At a run, it required all your concentration to get from one boulder to the next without falling. Gil could do the path in the dark—­had done so numerous times. Enko, much to Gil’s surprise, took to it as if he could run it blindfolded.

By the time they reached the Memorial, sweat trickled down Gil’s back.

“We follow the road down,” he said. “Safer that way.”

Enko nodded. He wasn’t the least bit winded. Who was this kid?

Gil sprinted even faster downhill.

When they returned to the field behind the high school, Coach was waiting for them. “What the hell is the matter with you, Marsh? I said the running trail, not the climbing one!”

Gil leaned forward, hands on his thighs, panting. This had been more of a workout than he had expected. Enko breathed a little harder, too, but wasn’t out of breath.

“It’s okay, Coach,” Enko said. He had this weird French accent. “That was fun.”


Coach scowled. “Maybe Marsh can learn something from you.” He might have said more, but off in the distance two runners trickled onto the field.

“Cool-­down walks!” he yelled. “Everyone,” he added pointedly to Gil.

When Coach turned to address the other boys, Enko slapped Gil on the shoulder. Gil walked ahead, ignoring the gesture. Beast Boy had just outperformed him. No one had done that before. And Coach had noticed.

Meet the Author

A.C.E. BAUER has always been infatuated with the classics, and has been telling stories ever since she could talk (some were real whoppers). After learning how to write, she began handing them out as gifts to her family. Ms. Bauer took a break from writing for a while when she was a lawyer helping poor people, writing legal briefs, and telling stories about her clients. She has returned to fiction and now writes for children of all ages. Born and raised in Montreal, she spends most of the year in Connecticut, but summers on a lake in Quebec. She lives with her husband, two children, and their dog, Speedy.

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Gil Marsh 3.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Result 1 ~ Bios <br>Result 2 ~ Map <br>Result 3 ~ Main Camp <br>Result 4 ~ Leader's Den <br>Result 5 ~ Warriors' Den[just go there, I won't post WARRIORS' DEN; if I get locked out, I can report there.] <br>Result 6 ~ Apperentices' Den[Look up and see why I'm not posting APPERRNTICES' DEN.] <br>Result 7 ~ Elders's Den <br>Result 8 ~ Nursery[not posting NURSERY.] <br>Result 9 ~ Medicine Den <br>Result 10 ~ Training Grounds[not posting TRAINING GROUNDS.] <br>Result 11 ~ Moonpool <br>Result 12 ~ Moonstone[a back-up of Moonpool.]
beckymmoe More than 1 year ago
I really, really wanted to like this book. A modern retelling of the epic of Gigamesh? What a neat idea! I teach sixth grade social studies (ancient history to the Renaissance) and am always looking for ways to bring the older stories to life for my students. I hadn't run into any modern versions of this story yet, and was pretty excited. Initially the novel did have promise, but it never truly delivered on it. For one thing, I never felt as if I really connected to the characters. I didn't find myself really caring all that much about either Gil or Enko or what was going to happen to them. For the most part I kept reading because at first hoped it would get better and later on I figured well, I've gotten this far, so I might as well soldier on...and then, bam! It was over. Can you say anticlimactic? It really didn't leave the reader with a sense of completion, and Gil definitely doesn't reach anything near the epiphany that the original character in the epic does. Another aspect of the book that I wasn't crazy about was the style of writing. There were far too many short, choppy sentences within short, choppy chapters. One thing I did like, though, was the sprinkling of French Canadian throughout--that was pretty neat, and Gil's attempts to pronounce them (cleverly showing the reader how to say a lot of the phrases) was a nice touch. And how many books have characters enjoying poutine in them? Not nearly enough! (Yes, it does sound and look pretty gross. But oh my goodness, it is delicious! Its inclusion alone is almost worth two stars!) In all, it was an okay read and one I have already mentioned to my classes. It definitely won't go in my &quot;to be re-read&quot; pile, though.