BEACON HILL BOYS

Ken Mochizuki, Author . Scholastic $16.95 (208p) ISBN 978-0-439-26749-6

Set in Seattle's Beacon Hill area in 1972, Mochizuki's (Baseball Saved Us) provocative novel focuses on four Japanese-American friends, all high school juniors. The narrator, Dan Inagaki, and his parents seem locked onto a collision course. His parents can't understand why Dan isn't more like his clean-cut older brother, Brad, a star athlete and straight-A student headed for Stanford; Dan and his friends think Brad is a "Banana" ("yellow on the outside, white on the inside"). For his part, Dan can't understand why his parents refuse to discuss their past, particularly the Japanese-American internment camps, and why they expect him to conform and not make trouble (one of his father's favorite proverbs is "The nail that sticks up the highest gets hit the hardest"). But where Dan's friend Eddie rebels by trying to act "black" and another friend by being "The Bad Boy," Dan earns a high profile by lobbying (successfully) for the creation of a comparative American cultures class and for some books in the school library "to teach history from [another] point of view." Mochizuki evokes the period well—Dan and his peers worry about the Vietnam War; a young Filipino teacher tells Dan, "What you're doing is really right on." While the novel will be of particular interest to readers who share Dan's ethnic and cultural heritage, the author's understanding of teen conflicts and the need to forge an individual identity should resonate with a broader audience. Ages 14-up. (Nov.)

Reviewed on: 11/11/2002
Release date: 11/01/2002
Genre: Children's
Mass Market Paperbound - 208 pages - 978-0-439-24906-5
Prebound-Sewn - 978-0-606-32773-2
Prebound-Glued - 200 pages - 978-0-7569-4281-6
Prebound-Sewn - 208 pages - 978-1-4176-2398-3
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