cover image Cadillac Chronicles

Cadillac Chronicles

Brett Hartman. Cinco Puntos (Consortium, dist.), $16.95 (232p) ISBN 978-1-935955-41-2

Hartman, author of the memoir Hammerhead 84, makes his YA debut with a hard-hitting road trip novel that’s unafraid to show the ugly sides of American life. Sixteen-year-old Alex has nothing but contempt for his politically calculating (and two-dimensionally callous) mother, and when she reneges on an offer to house an elderly black man named Lester after just a few days, Alex and straight-shooting Lester skip town, driving from New York State to Florida to find the father Alex never knew. Hartman doesn’t tiptoe around either Alex’s virility (he notices every pair of breasts that passes before his eyes and loses his virginity in a graphic sex scene) or Lester’s infirmity (including the need for frequent pit stops, not always in time). He also doesn’t miss a chance to describe characters’ physicality in blunt, even cruel terms (Lester’s morbidly obese sister “could have strung together a couple of mop buckets for a bra”). A cynical outlook underlies Hartman’s story, though the self-knowledge and maturity Alex gains during his travels leave room for hope. Ages 13–up. Agent: Anna Olswanger, Liza Dawson Associates. (Oct.)