Going Nowhere Faster
Sean Beaudoin / Author Little, Brown Books for Young Readers $
The summer after high school graduation isn't going as expected for the emotionally troubled narrator of Beaudoin's debut novel. Stan is a mathematically brilliant, sarcastic teenager with aspirations of becoming a famous screenwriter. Instead of fame and fortune, he finds himself working the register at Happy Video with no college prospects and an inability to write anything other than hackneyed movie treatments and the obsessive-and amusing-lists that dot his intentionally flawed narration (Stan is a self-described ""serial exaggerator""). Additionally, Stan strains to deal with his eccentric parents: his health-obsessed, vegan mother grows and sells ""organic (mealy) produce"" out of their home, and his father, an amateur inventor, designed and built their house, which ""looked like a haunted scrap pile"" and has engineered their ancient Mercedes to run on cooking oil, requiring frequent trips to fast food restaurants to fill up the leaky rooftop storage tank. Beaudoin adds a touch of menace to Stan's coming-of-age story by making him the target of escalating, anonymous threats that strike increasingly close to home. Stan is an empathetic hangdog hero, and though he sees his own life as stagnant and directionless, readers ought to enjoy this wryly narrated trip through his emotional failings, betrayals, neuroses and triumphs. Ages 12-up.
Reviewed on: 04/02/2007