cover image No Effect

No Effect

Daniel Hayes, Dan Hayes. David R. Godine Publisher, $15.95 (212pp) ISBN 978-0-87923-989-3

Tyler McAllister, earlier seen in The Trouble with Lemons and Eye of the Beholder , has gone out for the high school wrestling team, even though he's only in eighth grade. Little does he anticipate that far more strenuous contests will occur off the mat. A teacher's fatal stroke and a coach's injury call up disturbing questions about mortality, but the appearance of a new teacher, the beautiful, young Miss Williams, inspires Tyler's first love. Hayes masterfully blends humor and heartache, casting Tyler as the understated narrator of his own tumultuous affairs. Perceptive, funny and, above all, believable, Tyler struggles to strike a balance between emotional extremes as he endures the confusion and chaos of early adolescence. Hayes has a rare understanding of his characters' milieu, and readers will particularly appreciate his canny descriptions of school functionaries, such as the overeager social worker who presides over the ``crisis intervention center'' set up to help the essentially untroubled student body deal with the death of ``Old Lady Waverly.'' The author's steady hand allows the reader, like Tyler, to see serious or disturbing events for what they are--part of life. Ages 11-up. (Dec.)