Clearwater Summer

John E. Keegan, Author
John E. Keegan, Author Carroll & Graf Publishers $21 (317p) ISBN 978-0-7867-0008-0
Reviewed on: 02/28/1994
Release date: 03/01/1994
Paperback - 320 pages - 978-0-595-00784-4
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Incest, rape and domestic violence lurk in the shadows of Clearwater, the idyllic little Pacific Northwest town that provides the setting for this terribly earnest first novel. During the quiet, carefree summer of 1959, 14-year-old narrator Will Bradford slowly loses his childhood innocence, acquiring an interest in pretty girls, muscle power and fast cars. His best friends are Taylor Clark, whose good looks and impressive physique draw the attention of female teenagers, and Wellesley Baker, an ultra-cool tough gal from the wrong side of the tracks whose stock-car driving father has a terrible temper. The three friends' summer fun--hopping freights, stalking rats at the town dump--is shattered when Wellesley is accused of murdering her father. In the tense courtroom drama that concludes the book, Clearwater's residents are confronted with ugly truths about the Baker family. Keegan's experience as a lawyer serves him well in the dramatic courtroom scenes, but his dialogue and plotting are clumsy and he offers no new insight into issues that have become all too familiar to readers in recent years. Still, this is a sincere and tender evocation of the passage from childhood to maturity. (Mar. )
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