cover image Character, Driven

Character, Driven

David Lubar. Tor Teen, $17.99 (304p) ISBN 978-0-7653-1633-2

Filled with wordplay and moments of wry observation and revelation, this contemporary coming-of-age-novel follows the trials of a big-hearted teen who suffers some hard knocks. The opening sequence, depicting a violent brawl between high school senior Cliff Sparks and his father, will draw readers in, but Cliff quickly admits the incident is a lie. “Do I have your attention? Good.... Nobody wants to explore new lands with an untrustworthy guide. But I’d hate for you to leave so soon after we’ve met,” he tells readers. Lubar (Sophomores and Other Oxymorons) goes on to depict more everyday yet heart-wrenching examples of Cliff’s victimization by bullies, rejections by girls, and awkward errors in judgment, all while juggling two jobs to replenish his dwindling college fund, which his father has dipped into since losing his job. Cliff’s humorous perspective on his predicaments doesn’t lessen their sharp impact, and readers will breathe a sigh of relief when Cliff is viewed to be worthy of at least one girl’s love. However, contentment is short-lived—the novel throws a final strong punch that will warrant a re-examination of events to separate fact from fiction. Ages 13–up. (Mar.)