DE OLIVEIRA, Eddie. Johnny Hazzard. 334p. CIP. Scholastic/Push. 2005. Tr $16.95. ISBN 0-439-67361-5. LC 2005000195.
Gr 9 UpJohnny, 15, is spending his sixth summer with his father in London. This year, he decides, he's not a kid anymore: he flirts with the flight attendant, goes out pubbing with his older sister, finds the skateboard-positive South Bank, and falls head over heels in love with an 18-year-old British girl who is full of her own newfound worldliness. Johnny's summerand his development as a character who seems realistically torn between emotional complexity and blusterunfolds along a fairly straightforward schema that includes insightful consideration of parental feelings, protected but explicit sex, and a vague mystery about his sister's own social life. The story takes a rather sudden turn, however, when Johnny's family vacations in Belgium, and he comes face to face with the horrors of the Great War, an event that he parallels with Michael Moore's take on the current American war in Iraq. While the history and analysis are compelling, this subplot hangs off the novel's main track at an awkward angle. And when Johnny returns to Austin, apparently interested more in comparing sexual scores with his Texan skate buddies than anything else, the novel winds to a deflating halt. In spite of its flaws, it will find an audienceincluding worldly boys who aren't accustomed to seeing themselves in young adult novelsthat will appreciate not only Johnny's take on life but also de Oliveira's quick-draw characterizations and scene shifts.Francisca Goldsmith, Berkeley Public Library, CA
de Oliveira, Eddie. Johnny Hazzard. 2005. 333p. Scholastic/Push, $16.95 (0-439-67361-5).
Gr. 1012. Fifteen-year-old Texan Johnny Hazzard has spent every summer in England since his parents' divorce. He and his older sister, Lydia, usually fly from their everyday life in Austin to vegetate in London's chilly, damp climate. Then comes a summer when Johnny falls in love, and life is very, very different. De Oliveira has painted a lovely portrait of a young man's first love affair (and his first sexual experience) set against a backdrop of skateboarding, London life, and his family's Belgian vacation. But this is more than a love story. As Johnny's social life expands, he copes with Europe's post-9/11 opinion of the U.S., which he feels is justly deserved, and he comes face-to-face with the realities of warrealities he has barely considered. Johnny is a likable, fully conceived character supported by an equally aimable, realistically drawn family. De Oliveira's novel is a rare finda low-key, intelligent love story directed straight to male adolescent readers. Frances Bradburn
Leaving Mom behind in Texas, Johnny Hazzard travels to London for his annual summer visit with Dad and Dad's new wife. This year, the fifteen-year-old is effortlessly able to attract the attention of an eighteen-year-old girl, who initiates him into the pleasures of sex, cocktails
, and hash-laced chocolate-chip cookies before deciding he's too young for her after all. The low-flying plot takes an unexpected detour into outright propaganda when Johnny accompanies the family to Belgium to visit the World War I battlegrounds of leper (famous during the war as Ypres). There his tour is supplemented by insights garnered from the collected works of his patron saint, filmmaker Michael Moore, as he makes connections between the First World War and the conflict in Iraq. de Oliveira isn't at all successful in tying that thread back into the main plot, making his decision to use a Texan protagonist seem a not-too-subtle ruse that will enable him to inject quite a bit of America-bashing into the coming-of-age narrative; the author clearly wants to slap horny fifteen-year-old A