cover image Second Season

Second Season

Joseph Monninger. Atheneum Books, $0 (245pp) ISBN 978-0-689-11936-1

Written in the breezy idiom of sports, rock and party lingo, this accomplished, tender-hearted novel by the author of New Jersey focuses on Brennan McCalmont, who is preparing his defenses against certain tragedy. A jock and a high-school football star, Brennan is now a suburbanite with a good job, an endearing wife and three kids; the oldest, Michael, is leaving for Brown, the youngest, Louey, is dying of leukemia. The extraordinary integration of children and parents, as they compete at games, argue over pop tunes, pore over the Guinness Book of Records, only points up the fact that their perfect number is going to be reduced. As if to give his own strength to Louey, Brennan brings himself back to high-school weight and competence, and includes his bright, funny, courageous son in every possible activity. The whole family conspires to overlook and make Louey overlook, his increasing weakness. Most affecting are the scenes in which Louey, shunned by his friends, is sheltered by his parents and siblings. Readers of this complex, fast-paced, sure-handed novel will find it hard to detach Louey from their hearts. (September 23)