cover image OUT OF ORDER

OUT OF ORDER

A. M. Jenkins, Author . HarperTempest $15.99 (256p) ISBN 978-0-06-623968-2

There is redemption and growth at the end of Jenkins's (Damage; Breaking Boxes) brittle high school tale—but whether readers will want to spend a couple hundred pages with the loutish narrator is another matter. Sophomore Colt Trammel cares for only two things: baseball, at which he excels, and Grace, the girl he has always loved. To his teachers and most of his classmates (and probably readers as well), Colt is a stereotypical dumb jock ("One of the few things I've always liked about school is how everybody knows where they fit.... I belong at the top, and everybody knows it"); he, like nearly all the other characters, is recognizable more from teen films than from real life. When his mother threatens to keep him from playing baseball unless he brings up his grades, he turns for help to green-haired new girl Corinne, a dowdy outcast who loves poetry and shops at thrift stores (this would be the Molly Ringwald/Oddball Girl Who Is Really Adorable Once You Get to Know Her archetype). It is Percy Shelley's "Ozymandias" that effects the easily anticipated change in Colt, prompting him to wonder what people will remember about him when he is gone. The book's last few pages are poignant—including a poem by Corinne that casts Colt in a more favorable light—but it is likely a case of too little, too late. Ages 14-up. (Sept.)