Searching for Atticus

Jan Marino, Author Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing $16 (256p) ISBN 978-0-689-80066-5
Marino's (The Day That Elvis Came to Town) complex and engrossing tale revolves around 15-year-old Tess Ramsey's struggle to reconcile her vision of the perfect father, Atticus Finch from To Kill a Mockingbird, with her own dad, who may resemble Gregory Peck but is distant and depressed. Tess's first-person narrative and diary entries allow readers to step into her shoes during one pivotal summer. After her father's return from Vietnam, he has a nervous breakdown, and Tess's family seeks refuge at her aunt's house in Taloosa. There, Tess develops a crush on 18-year-old Caleb (""How simply beautiful Caleb is"") who, despite his apparent interest in her, fails to recognize Tess every time they meet--until the day he leads her to a deserted tower and attempts to rape her. Tess realizes the depth of her incommunicative father's love when he rescues her from the tower--and Caleb. Marino's figurative language, packed with colorful imagery, keeps the story alive and moving (e.g., Tess's reference to her father: ""He was like a lost ship keeping the light of the harbor in view. I trailed behind like the dinghy""). Although set during the Vietnam War, Tess's experience is just as relevant for any contemporary teen who yearns to escape a feeling of isolation. Ages 12-up. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 09/29/1997
Release date: 10/01/1997
Genre: Children's
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