If Dickens had been born in Arizona, he might have written a book like this.
Wild, inventive, hilarious, and heart-breaking...full of delights for the spirit and the senses.
A new generation of writers is emerging from the West, and Brady Udall is one of the very best of them.
Brady Udall has got what it takes.
A story that tears at you and calls you back.
Adult/High School-With Dickensian flair and mastery, Udall gives readers an underdog child protagonist, surrounds him with a cast of half-funny and half-tragic characters, and immerses them all in a plot full of staggering setbacks and occasional, hard-won moments of peace. When his head is crushed by a mail truck at age seven, Edgar is left for dead by his alcoholic, disinterested mother, who doesn't stick around to learn that he is later "brought back" by a shady doctor and whisked away to a hospital to recuperate. Some months and several delightfully cantankerous roommates later, Edgar regains all functions but the ability to write, which is more than solved when a fellow patient gets him a typewriter. Typing soothes the boy and becomes necessary therapy when he is released to an Indian school where other students punish him horrifically for being a "half-breed" (Apache and white). He is saved, literally and figuratively, by a pair of missionaries who recruit and place him with a Mormon family in a Utah suburb. Now that he feels relatively safe, the protagonist finds himself with a new purpose: to track down the devastated mailman who feels responsible for his death and let him know that he's alive and fine. Yet his sense of safety remains merely relative, as the disbarred doctor surfaces repeatedly in his life, full of menacing, disturbing love and determined to raise Edgar as his own son. This novel is a wonderful, wise debut, with a strong story told in language that teens will find easy to embrace.-Emily Lloyd, Fairfax County Public Library, VA Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
A picaresque, coming-of-ager by Udall (stories: Letting Loose the Hounds, 1997) invokes nearly every archetype of the genre while still managing to be fresh and vigorous, and unveiling a rarely seen slice of American life in the process. Edgar's Apache mother had her first drink the day she gave birth to him, on an Arizona reservation, and was never again sober. And his white father split seven months before. So life's looking pretty bleak until the now-seven-year-old gets his head run over by the mailman's jeep, surviving the first in a series of miracles. When he wakes up three months later, he's not just gaining consciousnesslittle Edgar is being born into a whole new life. St. Divine's Hospital, with its infrequent attention and even more infrequent love, provides Edgar with a family that's a huge improvement over his biological one. With echoes of Dickens, Edgar meets the stock characters who will reappear throughout his life. It can take a bit to get accustomed to the unique, alternating voicesan intimate, poignant, humorous first-person and a well-paced thirdbut, ultimately, it's wonderfully successful. From the hospital, Edgar is shipped to the William Tecumseh Sherman School, a Native American reformatory sure to rival any fictional institution for cruelty and deprivation. Despite this, though, the boy never quite loses the comic edge that lends his story its buoyancy. Edgar eventually manages to get placed with a Mormon familyon loan from some John Irving talecomplete with a genius stepbrother, a sexy stepsister, and an adulterous stepmom. Somewhere along the way he's decided that his life mission is to find that mailman in the jeep who wasthe prime mover behind all this: he wants to let the guy know he's just fine. This quest, which sends the teenaged Edgar from Utah across the country, leads to a close as unexpected as it is heartbreaking. A remarkably assured debut novel that brings to life a unique world, tells its story with skill, and remains enthralling throughout. A bit of a miracle in its own right.
“Extraordinary . . . Fall-down funny . . . It’s like nothing else you’ve ever read.” –Newsweek
“Vibrant, big-hearted . . . A poignant, picaresque odyssey.” –Chicago Tribune
“Marvelous . . . Edgar Mint is nobody’s Everyman, but he is the hope and the pain of a child looking for, and eventually finding, a home.” –Los Angeles Times
“Be prepared to fall head over heels for Edgar Mint . . . a charming and delightful narrator you can’t help but cheer on through the end.” –The Oregonian
“Profound and stirring . . . brilliantly executed.” –The Wall Street Journal