Surface Tension: A Novel in Four Summers

Brent Runyon, Author Knopf $16.99 (197p) ISBN 978-0-375-84446-1

Runyon's (The Burn Journals ; Maybe ) stirring coming-of-age novel is set at the lakeside cottage where Luke and his parents spend two weeks every summer. Each of the four chapters presents a different stage of Luke's adolescence between the ages of 13 and 16, tracing his emotional, hormonal and physical changes and his broadening perception of his surroundings, particularly the neighbors. There is the eccentric Richardson family, fastidious about their yard and cottage; a newcomer minister who marks his territory with a floodlight and Confederate flag; and a mysterious girl whose father allegedly stole Luke's father's barbecue. (“Her eyes look like an Egyptian queen's eyes. They're huge and brown and I don't know why, but I want to stare into them for as long as I can,” Luke pines.) The detail-rich story offers the type of intensity that sneaks up on readers, not taking a firm hold until the end, when previous events take on new meaning. Despite the book's structure, the plot seems to move in a spiral, revisiting familiar landmarks that inevitably change over time and digging underneath the surface. Ages 14–up. (Mar.)

Reviewed on: 02/23/2009
Release date: 03/01/2009
Genre: Children's
Open Ebook - 1 pages - 978-0-375-89168-7
Library Binding - 197 pages - 978-0-375-94446-8
Paperback - 197 pages - 978-0-440-24031-0
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