HANGING ON TO MAX

Margaret Bechard, Author . Millbrook/Roaring Brook $15.95 (160p) ISBN 978-0-7613-1579-7

Sam, a 17-year-old unwed father, is the candid, unusually likable narrator of Bechard's (If It Doesn't Kill You) involving novel. A senior at an alternative high school that offers day care, Sam struggles to juggle his responsibilities as a parent and student. He and 11-month-old Max live with Sam's largely uncommunicative widowed father, who has agreed to support them until Sam graduates high school and takes a construction job. Sam finds much-needed companionship when Claire, whom he has quietly admired for years, shows up at his school with a baby of her own. Flashbacks effectively fill in the missing pieces of the story, recalling the evolution of Sam's relationship with Brittany, Max's mother; Claire's presence in his eight-grade English class; his mother's last days fighting cancer; a memorable childhood fishing expedition with his parents; his first glimpse of the newborn Max; and his resolve to keep the baby when Brittany decides to give him up for adoption. The teen's conflicted perceptions of his role as father, friend and son, as well as his future aspirations, are intermittently droll and wrenching. While the story has been told before, it comes across as unfailingly real; and even the surprise ending conforms to the lifelike atmosphere. Ages 12-up. (May)

Reviewed on: 06/03/2002
Release date: 05/01/2002
Genre: Children's
Paperback - 176 pages - 978-0-689-87127-6
Prebound-Glued - 204 pages - 978-0-7569-1479-0
Paperback - 176 pages - 978-0-689-86268-7
Prebound-Glued - 176 pages - 978-0-613-70821-0
Hardcover - 160 pages - 978-0-7613-2574-1
Prebound-Sewn - 978-0-606-29280-1
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