You Know Who You Are

Ben Dolnick, Author
Ben Dolnick, Vintage, $14.95 trade paper (288p) ISBN 978-0-307-39087-5
Reviewed on: 01/17/2011
Release date: 03/01/2011
Open Ebook - 134 pages - 978-0-307-74200-1
Open Ebook - 1 pages - 978-1-299-02663-6
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Middle child Jacob Vine searches for his place in the world and in his family in Dolnick's wryly comic if unsurprising follow-up to Zoology. Sandwiched between golden child Will and deadly adorable younger sister Cara, Jacob never quite figures out his role, and after his mother dies of cancer when he's in seventh grade, Jacob, ill-equipped to even manage his first real romantic relationship, must add a new dimension to his half-formed identity: motherlessness. He eventually finds a niche studying biology. Of course, Jacob's fictional liberal arts college in the Adirondacks isn't Harvard, Will's alma mater, but Jacob takes to it and agreeably shuffles through the leaving-the-nest gauntlet. Dolnick can admirably distill complex adolescent angst down to precise phrases, and he has an easy hand with Jacob's adolescent romance, though the strained relationship between the brothers (Cara seems like an afterthought) is never particularly revelatory. It's a solid coming-of-age in which Dolnick does his work quietly: sincere and direct, devoid of stylistic flourishes or narrative fireworks. (Mar.)
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