cover image Face to Face

Face to Face

Marion Dane Bauer. Clarion Books, $14.95 (176pp) ISBN 978-0-395-55440-1

In this dramatic coming-of-age novel, 13-year-old Michael is reunited with his father, who walked out eight years before. The boy has clung loyally to his memories ever since, and wants to find that his father can acknowledge him for himself. But Dad lacks the self-acceptance necessary to do even that. After drifting from place to place, Dad now leads white-water rafting trips; he decides to toughen up his son and brutally dumps him from a raft. Michael returns to his family's Minnesota dairy farm, realizing he requires his quiet but reliable stepfather more than he does his exciting, wandering dad. Michael's anger, neediness and determination come out strongly in his intense, sometimes painful interactions with his family. Though the ending is somewhat rushed, the dynamic rafting scenes and Michael's struggles make for engrossing reading. Ages 10-14. (Sept.)