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The New Kid

Eliot Schrefer, Author
Eliot Schrefer, Author . Simon & Schuster $25 (276p) ISBN 978-0-7432-9909-1
Ebook - 352 pages - 978-1-4165-3981-0
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Schrefer weds fluid prose to a trashy/sexy plot in his fun second novel, revisiting the corrupting world of the rich (his debut, Glamorous Disasters , featured an SAT tutor caught up in the dirty doings of his wealthy clients). Fifteen-year-old Humphrey Baxter, recently relocated with his down-on-their-luck parents to Florida, has trouble adjusting to his new digs (a motel), and though initially Humphrey’s narration strikes a familiar YA tone, Schrefer throws in a welcome wrinkle with two bizarre friendships (with a jock and the jock’s hot mom) that lead to Humphrey being savagely beaten. With Humphrey hospitalized, Schrefer cuts to Humphrey’s half-sister, Gretchen, who has found love with Rajan Lansing and surrogate parents in Rajan’s wealthy folks, Gita and Joel. After Rajan dumps her, Gretchen follows Gita and Joel to Rome to get Rajan back. During the luxurious, curiously intimate summer, Gretchen hears of Humphrey’s troubles and the Lansings enthusiastically invite Humphrey to join them. The Lansings handle all expenses, but there is a price to pay as the two Baxters become disturbingly (and not entirely unwillingly) entangled with philandering Joel and increasingly unstable Gita. Aside from the Hollywood thriller ending, the combination of smart writing and a decadent world make for a genuine if guilty pleasure. (Sept.)

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