cover image The Season of Styx Malone

The Season of Styx Malone

Kekla Magoon. Random/Lamb, $16.99 (304p) ISBN 978-1-5247-1595-3

This memorable novel about three African-American boys in small-town Indiana opens with a trade: Bobby Gene and his little brother, Caleb, swap their baby sister for a sack of fireworks. Though the child is returned immediately, the brothers (ages 11 and 10) get to keep the fireworks. But what to do with them? Enter Styx Malone, a charismatic teen (who’s “sliding through the world like the air around him was greased”), who tells the siblings, “You just gotta learn how to make people give you things.” Styx convinces them that the trio can make a profit on the fireworks and, through a creatively convoluted trade-up sequence (involving old car parts, a lawn mower, and some Harley-Davidson memorabilia), could end up owning a snazzy moped. Beneath the entertaining shenanigans runs an affecting emotional current: Styx has ricocheted from one foster home to another and aches for a loving home; narrator Caleb grapples with the fear that he is “ordinary” and feels smothered by his overprotective father. Interweaving themes of risk taking and trust, betrayal and forgiveness, Magoon (How It Went Down) crafts a novel that is genuinely funny, heartbreaking, and uplifting—extraordinary, in fact. Ages 8–12. Agent: Ginger Knowlton, Curtis Brown Ltd. [em](Oct.) [/em]