cover image Getting Him

Getting Him

Dennis Haseley. Farrar Straus Giroux, $16 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-374-32536-7

In a small town in late-'50s Ohio, affectingly depicted by Haseley (Shadows; Dr. Gravity) as a depressing place with no viable forms for teen expression and zero communication between blue-collar parents and their alienated offspring, sixth-grade protagonist and narrator Donald goes along with some tough classmates' plan to pay back nerdy Harold for willfully injuring Donald's dog. Little does he know how involved, peculiar and heartbreaking their scheme will be. Donald cozies up to Harold, getting his enemy to open up to him about his private fears and extraterrestrial obsessions so that the guys can target his deepest vulnerabilities. Combining elements of the morality tale, the coming-of-age story and science fiction, as well as the revenge fantasy gone awry, Haseley creates a mysterious, stark world of preadolescent confusion; his characters recognize within themselves both their angry, destructive impulses as well as a tenderness toward others. The ending, while hopeful, provides no easy solution to the many problems of communication and hurtful, competitive young male behavior touched upon here. Ages 10-up. (Oct.)