Powell's (Tribute to Another Dead Rock Star) contemporary novel set in Seattle artfully parallels a 14-year-old boy's coming-of-age with his father's midlife crisis. As the months progress and Mr. Dickinson's preference for golf over job-hunting wears thin, narrator Gardner comes to realize that his father's attitude is not based on lack of interest , but on discontent and regret for not having lived out his boyhood dreams. As in his previous novels, Powell convincingly renders multidimensional characters, drawing their vulnerabilities and flaws with remarkable accuracy and compassion. Their authenticity grows with each conversation, especially through Gardner's humorous and poignant exchanges with his best friend, Skeepbo, and classmate Annie, and his father; and Powell beautifully choreographs a pivotal argument between Gardner's parents. Through Gardner's narrative, readers observe his evolving perception of his father as the man changes from hero to imperfect human being, most heart-wrenchingly displayed in a scene in which Gardner views Mr. Dickinson from a distance and mistakes him for a bum (""I knew the man and yet he was a stranger to me. He was my father""). Rather than providing easy answers, the author allows readers to glean meaning from characters' actions and conversations. His open ending invites multiple interpretations. Ages 12-up. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 04/01/2001 Release date: 04/01/2001 Genre: Children's
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