This sequel to Fighting Ruben Wolfe book begins by leading the reader into the changing life of Cameron Wolfe. The youngest of four children, Cameron is suddenly faced with discovering the new feelings of being a teenager. All of a sudden he does not like who he is. He is not a person with a lot of friends, especially girl friends. Cameron begins to notice his older brother Ruben's attitude toward girls. Even though Ruben never dates a girl for more than a few weeks, he has no trouble finding girls who take an interest in him. Cameron's ambition is to find a girl whom he can treat with respect. Cameron has never had a girlfriend, but desperately wants one. He dreams of finding just the right girl, and then he meets Octavia when she begins dating Ruben. After they break up, Octavia shows her true feelings towards Cameron. Cameron thinks that his dream has come true until he gets into a fight with Ruben because of Octavia. Not wanting to break up a family, Octavia disappears, leaving Cameron at odds with his brother and without the girl of his dreams. At first this book appears to be a typical teenage novel, but it adds more depth by incorporating an idealistic sense of family. Unlike most teenagers in most books, Cameron respects and values his family. He actually grows closer to Ruben in the end by confessing his feelings for Octavia. Cameron additionally grows closer to his sister and other brother Steve. The novel does not merely focus on the story of Cameron and Octavia, but delves into Cameron's relationship with several people. This allows the reader to see several perspectives, instead of the viewpoint of only the main character. 2003, Arthur A Levine Books/Scholastic Press,and Ages 12 up.
Zusak follows up his acclaimed first novel, Fighting Ruben Wolfe (reviewed in KLIATT in March 2001), with another story about the working-class Australian Wolfe family. Cameron, the sensitive and lonely younger son, once again narrates. He longs to connect with a girl, while his tough, handsome, careless brother Rube has girls falling all over him. Cam is particularly taken with a lovely girl named Octavia, and when she and Rube break up Cam is astonished to find that she is interested in him. But when he tells Rube that he and Octavia have started to see each other, his brother is furious, calling him "Scraps" for taking his leftovers and beating him up. Cam is struggling hard to become his own person, however, and to emerge from Rube's shadow and that of his fiercely determined, athletic oldest brother, Steve. His sister encourages him, and he finds strength in his writing and in his feelings for Octavia. He comes to Rube's rescue when Rube is badly beaten by a jealous boyfriend and earns his brothers' respect, and in the end comes to realize his own value. The title and the cover, a close-up of a girl's (clothed) torso, are sure to attract attention, though this is more a story of the relationship between brothers than of getting girls. The strongly drawn characters, Cam's longing for connection, and his growing understanding of the need to assert his own identity, as well as the bits of sports action and violence, should keep readers turning the pages. Zusak's dialogue is gritty and realistic, and readers will care about Cam. This can stand on its own, for those who haven't read Fighting Ruben Wolfe. They will probably want to, after finishing this. (Editor's note: originallypublished in Australia as When Dogs Cry.) KLIATT Codes: JS—Recommended for junior and senior high school students. 2003, Scholastic, Arthur A. Levine, 272p.,
Gr 8 Up-Cameron Wolfe, first introduced in Fighting Ruben Wolfe (Scholastic, 2001), wants a girlfriend. He wants sex. He wants to separate himself from his brothers' shadow. He wants to find himself and be something more than the underdog in the family. And he doesn't know how to go about getting what he wants. He is attracted to a girl who treats him horribly so he stands outside her house at night, hoping for glimpses of her. He likes his brother Ruben's girlfriend-and she treats him like a human being. When she and Ruben break up, Octavia shows an interest in Cameron and even though his brother already has another girlfriend, he beats up Cameron and Octavia walks away. Ruben has some bigger problems, though, and violence is once again his method of solving them. However, this is Cameron's story, and he discovers that he is much more than he ever thought he could be. His sister is the first to recognize her brother's strengths and helps give him the courage to face himself and his demons. The interaction of the characters is a real strength of this novel. It is a story of family dynamics and coming of age, interspersed with the protagonist's poignant poems and observations. The book, which was first published in Australia, should appeal to readers who want strong male characters such as those in Chris Crutcher's books.-Janet Hilbun, formerly at Sam Houston Middle School, Garland, TX Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books July/August 2003
Cam and his older brother, Rube (from Fighting Ruben Wolfe, BCCB 3101), return in this examination of the nature of love, romantic and otherwise. Rube hasn't changed since the last book; he's still a love 'em and leave 'em kind of guy. Cam, on the other hand, is figuring out the kind of guy he wants to be, and it isn't Ruben. Currently a loner ('You're a bit of a lonely bastard aren't y'?' his brother says), Cam is as desperate for human contact as he is for an emotional outlet, and he finds that outlet through a form of self--expression that is almost the antithesis of Rubc's bloody battles in the boxing ring. he writes. On scraps of paper he keeps stuffed in his pockets, Cam evokes his world in smears of words that manifest his longing. When Rube and Octavia (a young woman Cam sees as a cut above the rest of Ruhe's previous girlfriends) break up, Cam emerges from his solitude into a world with Octavia in it; he reveals himself to her, and she has the intelligence to welcome that revelation. Zusak rides his prose as if taming something wild, giving a sense of Cam's emotional upheaval without losing control of the momentum and pace. Solid characterizations ground the action, with Cam's personality artfully limned in a first-person narrative interspersed with his own writings; clipped staccato language, concrete and minimal, evokes the power and complexity of his yearnings. The relationship between Rube and Cam is the cohesive element in a novel that explores Cam's growing, passionate connections to the world. Readers making their own connections, passionate and otherwise, will revel in Cam's success. JMD
Booklist May 15 2003
In this sequel to Fighting Ruben Wolfe (2001), the Wolfe family has settled into a kind of "okayness." For Cameron's brother Ruben that means "one girl after another, one fight after another." Only Cameron, who's-in adolescence's high season, seems to feel restless and alone as he wanders the streets, pines over uninterested girls, and begins to discover his passion for writing. Then Ruben brings home beautiful Octavia, who, when Ruben predictably dumps her, surprises both brothers by turning to Cameron. Zusak interrupts Cameron's first-person narrative with excerpts from Cameron's writing that, as does much of the book, reads like what it's supposed to be: the words of a talented teenage writer, including some heavy metaphors, self-consciously experimental style, and fresh, inventive images. The authentic emotion behind the words and Cameron's raw experiences are powerful, though, and teens, especially boys, will easily connect with Cameron's intense yearning to define himself within his family and to discover what romance is all about-to explore, as he puts it, "the edges of words, the loyalty of blood, and the music of girls."
(Middle School, High School) Since Cameron and Ruben have quit boxing (Fighting Ruben Wolfe, rev. 3/01), Cam is no longer losing to his older brother in the ring. But he still can't measure up to Rube when it comes to getting a girl. "My brother never really had to say or do anything. He just had to stand somewhere or scratch himself or even trip up a gutter and a girl would like him." Cam, on the other hand, spends his evenings standing silently outside the house of the girl he likes, an action--or inaction--that causes Ruben to observe, "You're a bit of a lonely bastard aren't y'?" But when Ruben callously discards his latest girl--a street performer named Octavia--Cameron begins to forge his first serious relationship with the beguiling harmonica player. This story of first love complicated by a serious case of sibling rivalry lacks the blustering narrative voice of its predecessor. Cam has now taken an interest in writing, and each chapter ends with a sampling of his often overwrought work ("If her soul ever leaks, I want