In The Cherry Tree

In The Cherry Tree

4.6 29
by Dan Pope
     
 

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With a wholly original voice, this stunning debut novel captures the overwhelming transformation from childhood to adolescence

An ordinary suburban Connecticut summer in the seventies is the stage for the miraculous world of Timmy. Twelve years old and full of boundless curiosity, Timmy lives an ever-expanding life of record collections (of which Elton

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Overview

With a wholly original voice, this stunning debut novel captures the overwhelming transformation from childhood to adolescence

An ordinary suburban Connecticut summer in the seventies is the stage for the miraculous world of Timmy. Twelve years old and full of boundless curiosity, Timmy lives an ever-expanding life of record collections (of which Elton John is king), neighborhood bullies (of whom Franky DiLorenzo rules), best friends, and the darker, more lasting secrets of family. Over the course of the summer, Timmy will kill a frog, lose his baseball-card collection, alienate a friend, and witness his parents' separation. An intruder will hide in his treehouse; his mother will threaten divorce; his father will move out and back in. Timmy's childhood will end and his adolescence begin.

One of the most remarkable child narrators to come along in recent years, Timmy is the achievement of a stunning new voice in American fiction. In the Cherry Tree is an addictively clever and appealing novel of our universal coming of age.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Rather plodding but appealingly homely, this first novel has the feel of an old family album. In a series of grainy snapshots, Pope chronicles the coming of age of 12-year-old Timmy during the summer of 1974 in suburban Connecticut. Timmy's father ("The Dad") is a boozing, gambling, happy-go-lucky Italian-American builder; his mother ("The Mom") is a no-nonsense Nova Scotia WASP. Timmy spends his time hanging out with his cronies, climbing cherry trees, listening to Elton John, going to movies, masturbating, discovering girls, teasing his older brother and sister and observing the neighborhood's idiosyncrasies. Egged on by his sadistic best pal, Stev (the friends drop the "e" at the end of names), Timmy torments feckless Tony, another neighborhood kid, but draws the line at killing frogs, another of Stev's favorite pastimes. As his parents' marriage slowly disintegrates-mainly because the Mom incessantly nags the Dad about his habit of playing golf and boozing during business hours-Timmy is jarred from his idyllic idling. His dog is killed, and when Stev comes home from camp he betrays Timmy by gambling away Timmy's baseball cards to gain favor with the neighborhood toughs. Pope never builds up much narrative steam with his episodic storytelling, and Timmy's voice is not particularly distinctive (despite his earnest cataloguing of boners and mammoth farts). There is a warmth and authenticity to Timmy's interactions with his parents and siblings, but even the heavy sprinkling of '70s cultural references fails to create much edge. 8-city author tour. (Oct.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
For a 12-year-old boy, summers can still be magical-an endless vista of unscheduled days ready to be explored. So it seems, at least, to Timmy. He expects his summer to be filled with making lists, hanging out with friends, and watching TV. What he doesn't expect is a summer filled with change and loss. Over the course of this summer, Timmy will see his parents separate and his dog die; he will be betrayed by his best friend and terrified by the onset of puberty. Being the kind of child who keeps notebooks full of lists on weekly music favorites and TV trivia and possessing the standard self-centeredness of a 12-year-old, Timmy is as much concerned about getting a list right as he is about any of his battles. As events unfold in his corner of 1970s suburbia, he bobs along, slowly losing pieces of his innocence but never his hope. What makes this coming-of-age novel (Pope's first) appealing is Timmy's voice, which is not overly innocent or wise but aptly low-key and ordinary. While the 1970s background will appeal to nostalgic adult readers, teenagers will also enjoy this book. Recommended for public library collections.-Jan Blodgett, Davidson Coll. Lib., NC Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A boy's turbulent coming-of-age in suburban Connecticut during the 1970s. It's not easy to be nostalgic about the era of Watergate, Gerald Ford, and the leisure suit, but when you're 12 the world can look exciting no matter where you meet it. Our hero Timmy, on the cusp of adolescence, still lives mainly within the confines of family squabbles and schoolboy pranks, but he's beginning to pick up hints that life is not all beer and skittles. His parents seem to be breaking up, for one thing: They have very different tastes (Mom a straitlaced Protestant, Dad a volatile Italian Catholic) and argue nonstop. Plus, Dad seems to have a girlfriend on the side. Timmy has played doctor with Sissi Mandelbaum, but he's still more interested in hanging out with Sissi's brother Steve and Tony ("the Tiger") Papadakis. Timmy, the baby of the family, tends to follow the lead of his brother Albert, while sister Daphne is siding with their father in his marital feuds-especially after his mother throws Dad out of the house. Dad is no less shocked than the children, but he eventually makes it up to Mom and returns home a few months later to start all over again. Newcomer Pope gives us a portrait of an age as much as anything else, and the daily referents in Timmy's life-Elton John, The Poseidon Adventure, Happy Days, Richard Nixon-suffuse the story like water in an aquarium. If it all seems somewhat haphazardly thrown together and without a clear focus or sense of direction-well, that's what childhood is like. Still, this modest and appealing debut meanders too much for its own good and never acquires enough shape or shading.Agent: Esmond Harmsworth/Zachary Shuster Harmsworth

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780312422363
Publisher:
Picador
Publication date:
10/01/2003
Edition description:
First Edition
Pages:
272
Sales rank:
733,782
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.61(d)

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