To quote the review in KLIATT, March 2003: Life has always gone smoothly for Jed, a popular 16-year-old junior at a Minnesota high school, until the day a "punk chick with pink hair" unexpectedly tells him "Your father is sleeping with my mother." She wants Jed to break up the affair, and threatens to go public with the information otherwise. Jed and the girl, Laura, meet several times, commiserating in their misery over this unwanted knowledge and learning more about each other's lives. They even start to become romantically involved themselves. Eventually, they confront their parents. Jed's father moves out, and Jed, miserable and angry, starts to get into trouble at school. Laura's unstable younger sister has an even more dramatic response to the breakup of her family. She takes off in a kayak, intending to paddle to a new life in Canada. Jed and Laura race off to rescue her, and they all get caught in a terrible storm, with tragic consequences. This is a highly melodramatic tale, though it's well told. Jed and Laura's anguished responses to the knowledge of their parents' affair ring true, even if the action-packed ending is over the top. Weaver, author of such YA novels as Memory Boy and Hard Ball, manages to keep the suspense high throughout. KLIATT Codes: JSRecommended for junior and senior high school students. 2001, HarperTempest, 232p., Ages 12 to 18.
Despite a title that sounds more appropriate for a Paul Zindel gross-out tome, this coming-of-age novel is extraordinary. Jed begins by telling about his brighter-than-light good life, including his "landing a major girlfriend," but everything comes crashing down when he learns that his father is having an affair. The bearer of this news is Laura, a.k.a. the Weird Girl, whose mother is the object of Jed's father's affection. Both teens are angry at their parents' deceit, with Laura pushing Jed to confront his father. As the marriages of both sets of parents break apart when the affair is revealed, Laura and Jed grow closer, falling in love and beginning to live happily ever after, until Laura is killed in a tragic accident, forcing Jed to pull deep within himself to find an inner strength that he did not know he had. The book ends with Jed obsessing over a Sims-like computer game, where he relearns lessons about what one can and cannot control in life. There are big themes common to coming-of-age stories mixed here with fascinating, unique little details that are uncommon in young adult literature, such as Jed's rules for surfing Internet porn and his discovery of his mother's vibrator. Although the cover featuring a canoe might lead the reader to think that this book, like many of Weaver's earlier works, is a sports-adventure story, sports merely provides a backdrop and metaphor for the conflict happening inside the strong, yet sensitive, male teen characters. The novel is really a trip inside the heart and soul of a teen boy's journey to becoming a man. PLB
Gr 9 Up-Jed Berg's life is perfect. A junior in high school, he is an honors student, and has a senior as a girlfriend and the top singles position on the varsity tennis team. All of his friends are in awe of his close relationship with his architect father and his attorney mother. Then he receives an e-mail from a girl who demands that he confront his father about the affair he is having with her mother, and Jed's perfect world starts to disintegrate. Weaver's wonderful use of language ably reflects the teen's turmoil as his anger and hurt about his father's behavior spills over into his daily life, and he soon finds himself in detention for punching out his locker. This is just the start of Jed's troubles. His friends and family are shocked and it takes a girl in detention to put his situation in perspective when she quips, "preppies in a downward spiral are fun to watch." The novel, a character study of Jed, follows him through his spiral as events spin out of his control. The other characters aren't as strongly developed but that is to be expected since it is his reactions that are at the center of the book. This is a good choice for fans of more serious realistic fiction, such as Alex Flinn's Breaking Point (HarperCollins, 2002) or Laurie Halse Anderson's Catalyst (Viking, 2002).-Betsy Fraser, Calgary Public Library, Canada Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
A Minnesota teen who thinks he leads the perfect life finds out that he doesn’t. All is golden for Jed: he’s number one on the tennis team; his father lets him drive his muscle Camaro; he’s got the prettiest girl in school adorning the passenger seat; his parents are rich, beautiful, and successful. All is golden, that is, until a mysterious girl demands a meeting one day to tell him that his father is having an affair with her mother--and suddenly all of Jed’s assumptions fly out the window. As he pursues the truth of the matter, his life begins to unravel, and he learns that he is just as subject to human misery as anyone else. Weaver (Memory Boy, 2001, etc.) succeeds beautifully in limning the raw emotions of a family under stress and in creating a brutally honest voice for his protagonist. When Jed comes home from school the day after his father moves out, his mother "suddenly began to weep. I crossed the foyer and held her. It was the least I could do. But it pissed me off, and she felt frail and sharp boned and lost, and something in my heart turned cold." Weaver is less successful at developing the relationship between Jed and Laura, the girl who tells him of the affair. Their e-relationship is convincing, as is their growing attachment to each other, but the focus on emotion is wrenched off-course when Laura’s troubled little sister tries to paddle away to Canada and she and Jed pursue her through the Boundary Waters in a canoe. This diversion into outdoor adventure does another U-turn when their rescue ends in tragedy, and Jed ends up living in his bedroom, obsessed with a computer game in which he designs a family of total losers. Didactically appropriate, this apocalypticending nevertheless betrays the emotional honesty of the first half of the story. Worthwhile, but a pity about the trifurcated personality. (Fiction. YA)