In this appealing coming-of-age novel, Ozzie Santee is an 18-year-old high school senior in 1953 San Diego whose life revolves around thoughts of sex and his beloved jazz. With the Cold War raging, his fellow graduating seniors are planning on college or marriage in order to avoid the draft. Ozzie, who thinks he would be happy living in a beach shack with his jazz records, unexpectedly falls in lust with Colleen Vogel, well-to-do daughter of a funeral home director. Colleen begins to guide him toward marriage, family, and an assured position in the funeral business, with Ozzie fighting every step of the way. His rebellion takes the form of trips to Mexico for alcoholic binges and prostitutes, followed by swims in the ocean to clear his head. DeMarinis (The Voice of America, LJ 4/15/91), who has created a wonderful character in Ozzie, has succeeded in capturing a young man's feelings of confusion in the Cold War era. Recommended for most collections.-Patricia Ross, Westerville P.L., Ohio
Raging hormones aside, Ozzie Santee is not really sure whether he wants to marry the mortician's daughter. The setting is Southern California, and even while the cold war is brewing up a storm, Ozzie's love of bebop manages to muffle the simple fact of his lifethat he doesn't have a clue as to the next step once he graduates from high school. DeMarinis creates a classic protagonist in his trenchant portrayal of Ozzie, son of the much-married Mitzi, who has wandered the country to settle on a home in Paradise (aka San Diego). This taut and memorable tour de force, concocted with equal parts humor and pathos disguised as outrageous behavior, follows Ozzie as he careens along a crash course doing everything possible to prolong his adolescence.