Seventeen-year-old Phil lives with his twin sister, Dianne, and mother, Glass, in an old castle in a small German town. The father he has never metand knows little to nothing aboutremains in America. Glass's promiscuous sexual behavior makes the children targets of the neighborhood bullies' taunts and jeers and relegates them to the role of outsiders in the community. Phil is befriended by Kat, the daughter of the school headmaster, who is willful, proud, and possessive. When Phil falls in love with the new boy, Nicholas, Kat supports the relationship but soon finds herself falling for Nicholas' charms. In order to nurse and ultimately heal the wounds that result from the love triangle, Phil must decide what is most important to him, accept his own self-worth, and become a more active participant in his life. This novel is rich and multilayered with several interwoven stories that take the reader backward and forward in time, weaving a complex story of love, betrayal, and family connection. As Phil reveals and reflects upon his relationships with those around himhis sister, his mother, his seafaring uncle, his adult friends, his lover, his enemies, even his absent fatherwe are pushed and pulled through time and given the opportunity to bear witness to his coming of age. Through vivid detail that creates a lingering sense of place, the family homeVisibleassumes character-like status in the novel. Originally published in Hamburg, Germany in 1998, the novel rightfully earned the Buxtehuder Bulle Prize for Best Young Adult Novel in Germany and was short-listed for the German Children's Literature Award. 2005, Delacorte, Ages 14 to 18.
Seventeen-year-old Glass journeys from America to Europe to reunite with her older sister, Stella. Glass is nine months pregnant. Upon arriving at Visible, Stella's vast mansion estate, Glass gives birth to twins and learns that her sister is dead. Fast-forward seventeen years-the twins, Phil and Dianne, have grown up at Visible with their unconventional, promiscuous mother, and they have survived an interesting but isolated life, all but shunned by the townspeople for being the evil spawn of the town tramp. Now Phil and Dianne are attempting to carve out their own places in the world and readers are treated to their transformations and tribulations through Phil's eyes. The present is also peppered with scenes from the past-episodes that helped to form who Phil has become and who he aspires to be. This book is certainly for older readers, not only because of its subject matter, which includes Phil's sexual encounters with his first boyfriend, Dianne's involvement in Glass's miscarriage, and Glass's own escapades. The story is also multilayered and complex, carrying the reader from past to present and from scene to scene with a sophistication that would be lost to most younger readers. This same sophistication helps to make for quite a long book. Reminiscent in some ways of Aidan Chambers's Postcards from No Man's Land (Dutton, 2002) because of its foreign locale, maturity, and rich language, this title might have a limited audience but will be a satisfying read for those who choose to tackle it. VOYA CODES: 4Q 2P S A/YA (Better than most, marred only by occasional lapses; For the YA with a special interest in the subject; Senior High, defined as grades 10 to 12; Adult-marketed bookrecommended for Young Adults). 2005, Delacorte, 480p., and PLB Ages 15 to Adult.
Gr 9 Up-Phil, 17, and his twin, Dianne, live at Visible, a decrepit Gothic mansion in a tiny, provincial German town. Their mother, Glass, 34, is unwed, promiscuous, and self-involved, and she doesn't give a damn about what anyone thinks of her or her children. Dianne is withdrawn and secretive, and communicates better with animals than with people. Unapologetically gay, Phil worries about everyone else's dramas and drives. He daydreams about his American father, of whom Glass refuses to speak. He's too passive to approach gorgeous Nicholas, so he's thrilled when the other boy takes the lead. They meet often for wordless sex, but Phil craves intimacy. When he includes his feisty friend, Katja, in their shenanigans, jealousy and betrayal ensue. Phil's narrative shifts from even, detached present-tense action to minute recollections of, seemingly, every day since his birth. Steinh fel's female characters are vivid and fascinating, as is Phil when featured in the endless stories he tells about them. Nicholas, however, is so shallow and flatly drawn that it calls Phil's own depth into question. The author has an expert feel for setting, and Visible and its jungle gardens are lushly rendered. While the mysterious mood holds interest, the lulling pace, repetitive detail, and intrusive time shifts derail the plot. Phil's arc from self-pitying bystander to active participant in his own drama is anticlimactic, considering the length of his confessional. Enthusiastic, sophisticated readers, if patient, will be kidnapped by the lyrical, literate prose.-Johanna Lewis, New York Public Library Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
In this hazy, fairytale-like, tome-sized import from Germany, 17-year-old Phil shares a secluded, run-down castle with his outcast mom and estranged twin sister. Longing for male companionship, fatherless Phil stumbles upon dark-eyed, distant star-runner Nicholas, with whom he immediately falls head over heels in love. To his surprise, Nicholas makes the first blunt move in their seduction, and what begins with this meeting leads to further sexual encounters, trysts that are purely physical, leaving Phil emotionally empty and wary of Nicholas's true intentions. Beautifully written and circularly lyrical, Steinhofel's first US release balances Phil's pained past and burgeoning present with insightfully parallel images that are full of well-drawn, interconnected, non-didactic metaphors that also manage to carry the story. Unfortunately, the overwhelmingly huge page count will no doubt kill most teen appeal. And, given the meandering quality of storytelling-especially when the more titillating parts are cut short and replaced with flashbacks from Phil's troubled history-only the most determined teen reader will make it to the end, but not necessarily without reward. (Fiction. YA)