The One O'Clock Chop

Ralph Fletcher, Author . Holt $16.95 (
, $16.95 ISBN ) ISBN 978-0-8050-8143-5

Fletcher's (Marshfield Dreams ) resonant novel vividly recreates its period setting, Long Island in 1973, and puts it to poetic use. Matt, the 14-year-old narrator, takes a job with Dan, a gruff yet kind clam digger, to earn money to buy a boat. On his first day, Matt witnesses the “One O'Clock Chop,” which occurs daily when a breeze suddenly moves across the bay, “roughening up the smooth surface.” Stirring up the seeming placidness of his existence, his beautiful, self-assured cousin Jazzy arrives from Hawaii to spend the summer with Matt and his mother (his father has moved away and remarried several years earlier). Though grappling with the fact of cousinhood, Matt gradually falls under Jazzy's spell. In one early, typically evocative scene, they listen to jazz and he hears the bass “like a big powerful heart, beating in the exact center of the music,” and then Jazzy puts her arms around Matt: “I felt her arms around me, which was the last thing I expected. I felt her fingers moving up and down the middle of my back, as if my spine was one of the strings on a stand-up bass....” As the title implies, Matt will have his heart broken; he will also find his way toward repairing it. Writing with his customary sensitivity and flair for language, Fletcher turns a coming-of-age story into a rich, affecting read. Ages 10-16. (Aug.)

Reviewed on: 08/06/2007
Release date: 00/00/0000
Genre: Children's
Ebook - 192 pages - 978-1-4299-9769-0
Hardcover - 183 pages - 978-1-4287-5702-8
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