Stranded in Harmony

Stranded in Harmony

3.6 3
by Barbara Shoup

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Lucas Cantrell seems to have everything going for him. He's the captain of the football team; dating a pretty, popular cheerleader; and headed to his first-choice college. But Lucas feels trapped: by the expectations of his coach, who pressures him to inspire the team and lead them to victory after victory; by his father, who expects him to take over the family…  See more details below


Lucas Cantrell seems to have everything going for him. He's the captain of the football team; dating a pretty, popular cheerleader; and headed to his first-choice college. But Lucas feels trapped: by the expectations of his coach, who pressures him to inspire the team and lead them to victory after victory; by his father, who expects him to take over the family business; by his girlfriend, who assumes they'll eventually get married. Lucas becomes increasingly dissatisfied with the path he thinks he's doomed to follow and lashes out, alienating nearly everyone. The only person who seems to understand his yearning for a "real," meaningful life is Allie, a woman with a mysterious past who has moved to Harmony. With her help, Lucas is able to envision a life for himself and finds the strength to make his own choices.

Barbara Shoup explores the restlessness and yearning of a high school senior in a small Midwestern town in this honest and thought-provoking novel.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Suddenly restless with small-town life ("I felt as if I'd just awakened from a long sleep"), high school senior Lucas Cantrell is anxious to move on with his life somewhere other than Harmony, Ind. Unfortunately, the rate of his progression may seem as slow for readers as for him. While the smooth narrative provides many insightful moments, nearly all of which emerge from Lucas's involvement with two atypical members of the community, the momentum lags as Lucas meanders through the fall semester trying to find the right time to break up with his cheerleader girlfriend and to admit his disinterest in football, the sport that has made him a local hero. The pace does pick up considerably in the last few chapters, as Lucas's growing friendship with Allie, a '60s radical, coincides with personal loss, and Lucas feels a "sudden clarity" that dispels his ennui. While YAs bored with the high school scene will relate to Lucas's case of senioritis, there's less for them to sink their teeth into here than in Shoup's first book, Wish You Were Here. Ages 12-up. (June)
Children's Literature - Alexandria LaFaye
Lucas should be happy. The captain of the football team, He's dating a cheerleader, and headed to college. Unfortunately, he feels empty and angry. Allie, a mysterious woman who moves into town, offers Lucas a chance to find the source of his anguish. Telling him about the turbulence of the 1960s and talking about the complexity of life, Allie shows Lucas that he feel trapped by the ordinary qualities of his life. She encourages him to break out of the Midwestern mold of the perfect teenager and do his own thing. He decides to break up with his girlfriend, turn down a football scholarship, and study history. Shoup takes a deep look at the pressures of being a senior and reveals the importance of working past your mistakes to build your own life.
Children's Literature - Judy Silverman
At first glance, Stranded in Harmony appears to be a typical "coming of age in a small town" story. But good, strong writing and credible situations make it an unusual book. Lucas feels trapped by everything and everybody. The football coach wants him to win at any cost. His father wants him to join the family business. His girlfriend wants him to commit to marriage. Only the new woman in town, herself running away from something, is fully sympathetic. She gives Lucas the courage to fight for the right to be himself-to fail, if necessary, but to love what he's going to do with his life.
School Library Journal - School Library Journal
Gr 6 UpA rich study of a confused, high school senior who is riddled with raging hormones and longs to escape his small-town life. Lucas is captain of the football team, has a scholarship offer in his pocket, and a popular cheerleader at his side. He is bored and dissatisfied with his life, however, and when he fears that his girlfriend may be pregnant, he realizes that he is not in love with her. Filled with turmoil, he often escapes to his elderly cousin's cabin. A long-term reclusive invalid, Ronnie Dale needs lots of care. Enter the mysterious Allie, a middle-aged woman who is renting a nearby cabin. Both Lucas and Ronnie Dale immediately feel comfortable with this stranger, and Allie reluctantly agrees to be a resource for the teen's `60s research project. He eventually discovers that she is still trying to come to terms with her militant SDS activities during college. As he spends more time with Allie, he loses touch with his school persona. In the end, he is able to make decisions that are right for him. In a highly believable manner, this compelling and highly textured novel weaves together yearnings for freedom, family friction, political issues of the `60s, and personal traumas. Shoup respects her readers' intelligence by not offering any easy outs or cardboard villains. Multidimensional characters and a plot that clearly shows actions and reactions encourage YAs to look at decision making on several levels. Randy Powell's Dean Duffy (Farrar, 1995) shares similar themes.Marilyn Payne Phillips, University City Public Library, MO
Kirkus Reviews
A sudden friendship with an older woman gets a small-town football hero through a tough transition in this introspective story from Shoup (Wish You Were Here, 1994).

Fully equipped with a loyal buddy, a passionate cheerleader girlfriend, a stable home, an offer of a football scholarship, and a prosperous used-car business to inherit from his father, Lucas looks beyond his senior year and feels the town of Harmony, Indiana, closing in on him. His performance on and off the field slides, and he demonstrates a new talent for rubbing everyone the wrong way. Lucas finds a needed confidante in Allie Bowen, a new resident who shares his taste for '60s music. Offering both a sympathetic ear and hard-earned wisdom as (she eventually confesses) a Vietnam Warera terrorist who did time for murder, she helps him weather a series of crises, from the realization that he no longer wants to play football to his blackly humorous panic attack following a night of unprotected sex. Unlike Rich Wallace's Wrestling Sturbridge (1996), the sports action is downplayed; Lucas focuses less on external events than on his own anger and turmoil, so dramatic tension builds largely on the emotional plane—unusual in a teen novel with a male protagonist. Lucas manages to loosen the ties that bind him to Harmony, and is last seen not in rebellion, but comfortably contemplating his many options—a true '90s ending.

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Product Details

Hyperion Books for Children
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
6.35(w) x 9.42(h) x 0.73(d)
770L (what's this?)
Age Range:
12 Years

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Stranded in Harmony 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is an great book.If you like to read about regular day high school then this is the book for you.
Guest More than 1 year ago
My 12 year old daughter came home from school with this book. She attends a Middle School (5th, 6th, 7th & 8th). She brought it to my attention some of the words in the book. It had a lot of foul language and sexual scenes that I feel young teens do not need to be reading. I read only 9 chapters and that was enough for me. The school said they buy these books on ratings and the age group category that the company has them listed as. To me this book is for 18+ years. I'm not downing your company, but the book should not have been put in a category that 11-15 year olds could read.
Guest More than 1 year ago
i think any teenager would love this book. it will keep them interested in everything that happens. also, if you like to read story that have a twist to them then this will be a great book for you. i recommend this to anyone i really think that older people would also relate to this book. i had to read this for a school project and my teacher recommended it to me so i start it and couldnt put it down. i normally dont read but most kids dont but i think that this is a book that would keep their interest.