Denker seems to be hitting major social problems with his novels. This Child of Mine (LJ 4/15/95) dealt with adoption, and Labyrinth (LJ 10/1/94) with multiple personalities. Here he presents an alcoholic father whose celebration of the new year leads to his 16-year-old son's head injury. Bud must relearn to eat, talk, and walk. The characters are all stereotypes and are subordinate to the drama in the hospital, and the novel is clearly written but unrealistic. Bud is a bit too perfect, and his recovery from a serious injury is implausibly rapid and upbeat. Even Pep's battle with guilt and alcoholism seems satisfactorily worked out. However, the book is readable, and the pages turn easily enough. Undemanding readers who enjoy fairy-tale endings will find it charming. For large fiction collections.-Andrea Lee Shuey, Dallas P.L.
The language is often as clinical as the subject matter in this simple, monotonous story of a golden boy's fight back from a brutal car accident; this time out, Denker (This Child is Mine, 1995, etc.) tackles the inherently mind-numbing topic of physical therapy with his trademark extra shot of insulin.
Bud Young, ace student, star quarterback, and all-around good guy is the only son and favorite child of successful salesman and pillar of the community Willard "Pepper" Young. Along with his mother, Lily, and younger sister, Gwen, Bud tries to ignore his father's well-concealed drinking problem . . . until the snowy New Year's Day when Pepper gets behind the wheel of the family station wagon after far too many cups of eggnog and causes an accident that nearly costs Bud his life. Slowly and painfully, with the support and help of saintly therapist Marcy Etheridge, Bud begins his comeback, but apart from the painstaking physical demands placed on himonce out of a coma, he must learn all over again how to talk, eat, write, even walkBud must learn to forgive his guilt-ridden but still drinking father. The long-suffering Lily, who spends her days by her son's side throughout his arduous recovery, must also learn to forgive her husband. It takes the decision of a wise judge, who sentences the hapless Pepper to community service and daily visits to AA, to really get Pepper Young on the right track. Although Bud, Marcy, Lily, and Gwen are all drawn with a firm, consistent hand, the glimpses shown, almost incidentally, of Pepper's bigotry, misogyny, and general self-destructiveness are a disturbing, unresolved element.
Denker is familiar with both his hospital setting (a description of the nature of brain trauma is unforgettable) and his moral high ground; too bad he made Pepper such an essentially contemptible cad.