Dither Farm ) departs from his usual folksy style and rural settings to explore the inner workings of a disgruntled "/>

I'm Exploding Now

Sid Hite, Author . Hyperion $16.99 (185p) ISBN 978-0-7868-3757-1

In a novel generously laced with humor, Hite (Dither Farm ) departs from his usual folksy style and rural settings to explore the inner workings of a disgruntled urban teen's mind, structuring his work as the journal of 16-year-old New Yorker Max Whooten. In one of the characteristically deadpan entries, Max writes, “I don't know how I'll make it through the summer. Hope it's just a phase.” For a while Max stews in his angst, then three things occur. His ancient cat, whom Max calls Crappy due to his inability to hit the litter box), finally dies. Max travels upstate to bury the cat at his aunt's place near Woodstock, and there he meets a girl who “might actually like me.” From that point on, surprises seem to lie around every corner. The novel moves from morose to downright optimistic, winningly capturing the roller-coaster emotions typically felt by teens as they confront new situations or tire of old ones. Max's predicaments will win laughs and evoke empathy for an underdog who eventually learns to grab opportunities to turn his life around. Philosophical queries, common in the author's previous works, make an appearance here, too, as Max ponders (none too rigorously) the meaning of his existence and invents “coolism” (“It's the philosophy of not thinking too much and just cooling out”). Readers will relate to Max's growing pains, his unharnessed longing to find a purpose and his glee in jumping back in “the game” and ending up a winner. Ages 10-14. (Sept.)

Reviewed on: 09/17/2007
Release date: 09/01/2007
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