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3.0 2
by Paul Fleischman

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Assigned to write his autobiography, high school senior Rob Radkovitz instead creates an oral portrait of his life, centering on the search for his missing father. Lenny G. abandoned Rob’s mother when she was pregnant, leaving behind a tape of his last show as a DJ and a record of the sounds of his native Louisiana. Author Paul Fleischman -- winner of the


Assigned to write his autobiography, high school senior Rob Radkovitz instead creates an oral portrait of his life, centering on the search for his missing father. Lenny G. abandoned Rob’s mother when she was pregnant, leaving behind a tape of his last show as a DJ and a record of the sounds of his native Louisiana. Author Paul Fleischman -- winner of the Newbery Medal for Joyful Noise: Poems for Two Voices and a Newbery Honor for Graven Images -- uses Rob’s memories: his crusty grandfather, his adoring aunts, his mother’s Spanish soap operas, his grandmother’s racy mysteries read aloud, and especially and repeatedly his father’s lone tape to build a counterpoint of past and present, recorded and heard, that is an ever-unfolding, ever fascinating fugue. Determined to find his father, Rob acquires a series of increasingly sophisticated radios, searching obscure stations across the country for that missing voice. This powerful need to find the absent part of his life drives the story forward as Rob both imitates his father in becoming a radio personality and makes a final break in accepting the family he has.

Editorial Reviews

High school senior Rob Radkovitz searches for his missing father, not on the streets of his native San Francisco but on the static-jammed airwaves of his radio. Adjusting the tuner ever so minutely, Rob hopes to catch again the fading voice of his dad in the shifting sounds of the night. A teen novel that stops us in our tracks.
Publishers Weekly
Readers will strongly detect Fleischman's (Joyful Noise; Bull Run) ear for language and appreciation for family history in this story of a teen's life, which emerges as a lyrical symphony of voices. High-school senior Rob, inspired by his fascination with radios, chooses to write his autobiography (assigned for English class) in the form of a radio play. The narrator presents a series of monologues and dialogues that capture the essence of those who have influenced him most: his trilingual mother, his history-professor grandfather, his storytelling grandmother, the aunts who helped raise him, and his school friends. However, Rob is most conscious of the silence created by his absent father ("Somehow, that missing voice seemed to outweigh all those that were present," he reflects). In an attempt to fill the empty space left by the man he's never met, Rob tunes into radio stations across the country and beyond to listen to announcers, one of whom might just be his DJ father. The novel which combines elements of poetry, fiction, essay and drama will be best appreciated in a readers' theater kind of setting; otherwise, it can take some time to get one's bearings, as the narrative moves between flashbacks and contemporaneous conversations. But those who stick with this lively cast of characters, revealed solely through dialogue, will be rewarded. Ages 12-up. (Sept.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
This ALA Best Book for YAs was reviewed in KLIATT, November 2001 in hardcover: In the form of a pastiche of voices, Fleischman presents the autobiography of a high school senior named Rob, whose life has been shaped by his feelings toward the father he never knew. This man, a Cajun DJ, loved music and Rob's mother, but he wasn't ready to be a parent and left her before Rob was born. At first, young Rob longs for his father, trying to find him on the airwaves by listening to late-night shortwave radio. Then, in middle school, Rob tries to emulate his father, acting as a DJ on his own play radio stations. He is sure his father will show up for his eighth-grade graduation, but when he doesn't, Rob is furious and turns to writing instead of radio. He and his friends create an underground high school newspaper, while Rob tries to come to terms with his mother having a serious new boyfriend. When they marry, Rob is finally able to let go of his anger toward his father. He dusts off his radio equipment, and together with his friends creates a pirate radio station. His father catches one of his shows—and calls Rob up on the phone. He is ready to have a relationship, it seems, though Rob no longer misses having him in his life. The format, like that of Fleischman's award-winning poetry book Joyful Noise, is unusual but effective, focusing on what the ear hears, telling the tale through aural means. It reads more like a play script than a novel, with snatches of dialogue, brief comments by Rob, his friends and family, and DJ's announcements following one another swiftly, making this a challenging read for some. At the end, Fleischman offers some performance notes, suggesting ways in which the bookcould be presented as a radio play or in a theater. An interesting idea for the classroom, as well as a powerful reading experience for students who appreciate unusual narratives. KLIATT Codes: JS*—Exceptional book, recommended for junior and senior high school students. 2001, Simon & Schuster, Pulse, 167p.,
— Paula Rohrlick
Children's Literature
Rob's senior thesis in English is to write an autobiography. His teacher says, "This is a chance for you to look back and use both your literary and critical thinking skills." Rob starts his preface, "I grew up in a house built of voices." So begins a unique and satisfying novel of a boy's search for his father and his own coming of age. The reader meets classmates, relatives and neighbors through dialogue, for the story is presented in reader's theater format. Rob's father, Lenny, abandoned the family before Rob was born. When Rob learns that his father is a radio DJ he presses the seek button, searching for his father's station, longing to hear his voice and yearning to know him. Now, in his senior year of high school, Rob finally receives a phone call from Lenny. With that contact, Rob realizes that the important people in his life are those who have been there for him all along and have had an active role. Fleischman proves himself a writing genius in this novel. Although it has a cast of fifty-two characters, the voices are so distinct that one can easily keep them straight. Rob's grandparents provide wonderfully humorous moments, and his mother is a marvelous steady and loving voice. The variety of radio stations move in and out with the snippets that one hears while seeking the right program. It is a fascinating device that will elicit much discussion. One of this year's best books. 2001, A Marcato Book/Cricket Books, $16.95. Ages 10 to 14. Reviewer: Sharon Salluzzo
High school senior Rob Radkovitz reveals in his autobiographical assignment that he grew up in a house built of voices. "Instead of looking back," he says, "it's like I keep listening back." Through Fleischman's verse, an a cappella choir of radio announcers, family, friends, teachers, psychics, sports broadcasters, and pirate radio show deejays tell the story of Rob's search for his father, Lenny, a deejay for an oldies station who left before Rob was born. Raised with joy and love by his mother and her family, Rob still is dissatisfied. "I was aware that there was a voice missing from the chorus. My father's voice." All Rob knows of his father are his mother's stories and the tokens Lenny left behind—a recording called "Sounds of a Southern Swamp" and a tape of one of his oldies shows. Rob begins his search on the highways his father travels—the airwaves. Late at night as Rob punches the seek button, he scans radio stations listening for Lenny's voice. In time, Rob realizes that his chorus is complete with the warm and supportive rhythm of his family's voices. Fleischman has orchestrated a symphony that is both joyful and poignant with this book designed for reader's theatre. Students unfamiliar with this form might be reluctant to pick up the book, but once they do, they will be captivated immediately. Convince teachers to perform Seek with their students. The story will sing in their minds long after the last page is turned. VOYA CODES:5Q 3P M J S (Hard to imagine it being any better written;Will appeal with pushing;Middle School, defined as grades 6 to 8;Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9;Senior High, defined as grades 10 to 12). 2001, Cricket Books, 176p, $15.95.Ages 11 to 18. Reviewer:Lynn Rutan—VOYA, December 2001 (Vol. 24, No. 5)
School Library Journal
Gr 7 Up-To fulfill an assignment to write an autobiography, high school senior Robert Radkovitz records his memories of the sounds, voices, television shows, and songs of his childhood. Most importantly, he weaves in segments of the one tape he owns of a radio broadcast that contains his long-absent father's voice. The title's multiple meanings become clear as Robert seeks clarity about his life through his nearly lifelong search to locate his father, a radio announcer who left before he was born. Robert's story, which is filled with mystery, humor, and emotion, is revealed through the brief but telling passages. Although students may find Seek challenging at first, when they understand the book's construction, they may be inspired to gather together their friends and family (Fleischman's performance notes explain that the 52 characters can be covered by as few as 15 readers) to try this out loud. The intriguing cover, which features both younger and older versions of Robert's face along with an old-fashioned radio dial, should attract browsers. Another groundbreaking work by an author who loves to play with form.-Ellen Fader, Multnomah County Library, Portland, OR Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.

Product Details

Cricket Books
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.30(w) x 7.24(h) x 0.75(d)
NP (what's this?)
Age Range:
11 - 15 Years

Meet the Author

Paul Fleischman has written over 25 books for children and young adults. He received a Newbery Medal for Joyful Noise and a Newbery Honor for Graven Images. His most recent novel, Whirligig, was named a Best Book of the Year by Publishers Weekly, School Library Journal, and Booklist. He lives in Monterey, California.

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Seek 3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I had to read this book as a high school assignment, and im telling you..this book is soooooo boring and confusing!! Its a short book, so if you had to read something last minute i would reccomend it, but otherwise its too boring.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a great, fast read! As stated above, it is in the form of a play, which takes a little getting used to (especially beacause of the frequent radio transmissions that find their way in), but after that it's great. You really get to know the character and his search for his father. There is something for everyone, and even a little romance towards the end. This was a great novel though that I would suggest to anyone.