S. L. Rottman, Author Peachtree Publishers $15.95 (144p) ISBN 978-1-56145-159-3
Rottman makes a promising debut with this YA novel about an abused teenager who gradually comes to trust another human being. Sean has been let down by people his whole life, especially by his abusive alcoholic mother and his evasive father. So when he has to write an essay about a ""hero"" for a school assignment, the 15-year-old comes up blank. Then, when a fight lands him a sentence of community service on Mr. Hassler's ranch, he comes to know heroism firsthand. Sean is a likable loner--tough as nails--with a survivor's sense of humor (""Today, rumor had it that Rick would be kicking my butt. It's always fun to find out a thing like that from other people""). He meets his match in stalwart Mr. Hassler, a WWII veteran who won't put up with Sean's smart mouth (he even washes it out with soap). In their relationship lies the strength of the novel (other characters, such as Sean's mother, father, and archrival Rick come off as stereotypes). Mr. Hassler gains his trust by fostering Sean's self-confidence (e.g., he teaches Sean to cook and makes Sean assist him in the delivery of a premature colt). Two scenes edge toward melodrama: Mr. Hassler's fist fight with Sean's father, and Rick holding Sean at gunpoint in the denouement. However, the book concludes credibly--there are no easy answers. Sean has discovered the heroism in everyday acts of courage--and his message is a powerful one for adolescents. Ages 12-16. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 09/01/1997
Release date: 09/01/1997
Paperback - 221 pages - 978-1-56145-427-3
Prebound-Glued - 170 pages - 978-0-7569-4133-8
Prebound-Glued - 176 pages - 978-0-613-28520-9
Paperback - 176 pages - 978-0-14-130701-5
Prebound-Sewn - 978-0-606-17860-0
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