cover image The Pitiful Life of Simon Schultz

The Pitiful Life of Simon Schultz

Barbara M. Joosse. HarperCollins Publishers, $13.95 (137pp) ISBN 978-0-06-022486-8

Reminiscent of a character Woody Allen might play, Simon Schultz is a scrawny, bespectacled teenager who repeatedly slips into reveries about rescuing the girl he has a wild crush on. Chronicling his woes in a journal hidden in his box spring, Simon's writings are filled with deprecating self-descriptions like ``wimpy'' and ``scum''--and with complaints about his meddling, overly enthusiastic mother. Much to Simon's horror, she plans a concert at which her son will play the piano for her friends. Simon tries to sabotage the event by feigning illness, a scheme that backfires when Mother reads his journal. In depicting Simon's efforts to break free from his overbearing parent, Joosse ( Pieces of the Picture ; Anna, the One and Only ) is occasionally right on the mark. Unfortunately, her novel has a plodding pace, and all too often its situations, characterizations and dialogue just don't ring true. Ages 10-14. (Oct.)