The Martin Chronicles

John Fried. Grand Central, $26 (272p) ISBN 978-1-5387-2983-0
Set in Manhattan’s Upper West Side in the 1980s, Fried’s uneven debut novel follows Marty Kelso as he ages from tween to teen, beginning with him in sixth grade and ending with his high school graduation. After a water pipe bursts at their “sister middle school,” Marty and his best friends, Dave and Max, are confronted with attending a school with girls for the first time. On top of this seismic shift, Marty’s cousin Evie has also temporarily moved in to his house after the death of her father. Drifting episodically from Mr. Harding’s middle school English classroom to summer camp to the brink of his graduation, Marty sees his once-steady friendships become strained as romantic relationships come into play. Unfortunately, an overabundance of cliché causes the tale to reflect the awkwardness of its pubescent protagonist a bit too closely. Rain hammers an air conditioner “like a drumroll”; a rifle fires like “a firecracker going off.” However, when the excessive simile usage settles down, Fried’s lighthearted humor shines through, as when Marty gets stuck in an elevator with an elderly neighbor: “I reached out and felt her hand. Ice cold. Dead, I worried. Terrific, I thought.” While Fried’s novel offers playful moments and an evocative atmosphere, these vignettes never come together into a fully formed story. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 10/08/2018
Release date: 01/08/2019
Genre: Fiction
Compact Disc - 978-1-5491-4993-1
Compact Disc - 978-1-5491-4992-4
Pre-Recorded Audio Player - 978-1-5491-5096-8
Paperback - 288 pages - 978-1-5387-2984-7
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