cover image See YA, Simon

See YA, Simon

David Hill. Dutton Books, $14.99 (160pp) ISBN 978-0-525-45247-8

Hill's first YA novel, set in the author's native New Zealand, chronicles 14-year-old Nathan's turmoil as he watches best friend Simon deteriorate from muscular dystrophy. Popular and fun-loving, Simon won't tolerate pity in himself or others. Yet he's aware that death is imminent--a fact he openly shares with his classmates. Nathan reciprocates Simon's courage and candor: even as he inwardly agonizes over signs of Simon's progressive weakening, he helps boost Simon's morale with cheerful, tough banter. Hill is particularly adept at demonstrating how his characters use humor in coping with Simon's disease and in preserving Simon's self-respect; his is a noble counterpart to weepy melodramas about dying teens. The novel falters in places--the antagonism between Nathan and his sister is overdone, and Nathan's romantic interest in a classmate is handled in almost painfully obvious fashion--but in the end it is a glowing and memorable tribute to a stalwart, life-affirming friendship. Ages 10-14. (June)