Book list Australian author Marchetta follows her Printz Award-winning Jellicoe Road (2008) and the high-fantasy Finnikin of the Rock (2010) with this realistic, stand-alone companion to Saving Francesca (2004), set five years later in the same urban neighborhood. After the death of his beloved uncle Joe in an overseas bomb blast, Tom dropped out of the university, and his family spun apart. After a rock-bottom moment leaves Tom homeless with a head full of stitches, he moves in with his aunt Georgie, who is pregnant at 42 and navigating a fraught relationship with a sometimes-estranged partner. Marchetta draws in familiar faces from Saving Francesca, including the title character, as Tom begins to reclaim his life and reach out to the girl he can't forget. Readers may find that the narrative loses focus in frequent switches to Georgie's point of view, but the multidimensional adult characters add to the story's deep flashes of authenticity. A memorable portrait of first love, surviving grief, and the messy contradictions and fierce bonds that hold friends and family together.--Engberg, Gillian Copyright 2010 Booklist
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.
Publishers Weekly This tender sequel to Saving Francesca focuses on Francesca's friend, Thomas Finch Mackee, whose family is being torn apart by tragedy. Two years ago when Tom's young uncle was killed by a suicide bomber, Tom's father ("He was a drinker, Dom was. Always had been") lost control, causing his mother to leave town with his younger sister. Tom dropped out of his university-and abandoned his tight-knit circle of friends-while his aunt Georgie has yet to acknowledge that she is pregnant by her ex-partner. There is a lot of backstory, and readers may initially have trouble sorting out the pieces. But the story that unfolds through Tom and Georgie's alternating points of view is powerful and tragic, revealing a wonderful and realistically flawed family working hard to fix its deep damage. Marchetta masterfully demonstrates the depth of emotion-and love-the characters feel, sometimes in small but moving moments. The ending may wrap up somewhat neatly, but readers who make this intense journey with Tom and Georgie will feel they deserve the sweet resolutions. Ages 14-up. (Mar.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
School Library Journal Gr 9 Up-Fans of Marchetta's Saving Francesca (Knopf, 2004) will enjoy revisiting the book's characters, now five years older. This time the focus is on Thomas Mackee, whose entire family is torn apart by grief when his uncle Joe is killed, the result of a terrorist bombing in a London subway. Tom's parents separate, he drops out of university, and hits rock bottom with booze, drugs, and one-night stands. His flatmates bail on him and he finds himself living with his unmarried, pregnant aunt, Georgie. Eventually they're joined by Tom's alcoholic, grieving dad. There's a plethora of family angst, including Grandpa's remains now returned from the Vietnam War and Georgie's boyfriend getting another woman pregnant. At times, the story plods and Tom is quite unlikable, but Marchetta uses smart dialogue, email messages, and a bit of humor to slowly draw readers into the complicated social dynamics. It's a joy to watch Tom reconnect with his friends, his music, his family, and Tara, the girl whose heart he broke.-Patricia N. McClune, Conestoga Valley High School, Lancaster, PA (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
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Publishers Weekly In this hilarious and poignant sequel to A Long Way to Chicago, Peck once again shows that country life is anything but boring. Chicago-bred Mary Alice (who has previously weathered annual week-long visits with Grandma Dowdel) has been sentenced to a year-long stay in rural Illinois with her irrepressible, rough and gruff grandmother, while Joey heads west with the Civilian Conservation Corps, and her parents struggle to get back on their feet during the 1937 recession. Each season brings new adventures to 15-year-old Mary Alice as she becomes Grandma's partner in crime, helping to carry out madcap schemes to benefit friends and avenge enemies. Around Halloween, for example, the woman, armed with wire, a railroad spike and a bucket of glue, outsmarts a gang of pranksters bent on upturning her privy. Later on, she proves just as apt at squeezing change out of the pockets of skinflints, putting prim and proper DAR ladies in their place and arranging an unlikely match between a schoolmarm and a WPA artist of nude models. Between antic capers, Peck reveals a marshmallow heart inside Grandma's rock-hard exterior and adroitly exposes the mutual, unspoken affection she shares with her granddaughter. Like Mary Alice, audience members will breathe a sigh of regret when the eventful year "down yonder" draws to a close. Ages 10-up. (Oct.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
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Book list Gr. 6^-10. With the same combination of wit, gentleness, and outrageous farce as Peck's Newbery Honor book, Long Way from Chicago (1998), this sequel tells the story of Joey's younger sister, Mary Alice, 15, who spends the year of 1937 back with Grandma Dowdel in a small town in Illinois. It's still the Depression; Dad has lost his job, and Mary Alice has been sent from Chicago to live with Grandma and enroll in the "hick-town's" 25-student high school. As in the first book, much of the fun comes from the larger-than-life characters, whether it's the snobbish DAR ladies or the visiting WPA artist, who paints a nude picture of the postmistress (nude, not naked; he studied in Paris). The wry one-liners and tall tales are usually Grandma's ("When I was a girl, we had to walk in our sleep to keep from freezing to death"), or Mary Alice's commentary as she looks back ("Everybody in this town knew everything about you. They knew things that hadn't even happened yet" ). That adult perspective is occasionally intrusive and Mary Alice sometimes seems younger than 15, though her awkward romance with a classmate is timeless. The heart of the book is Grandma--huge and overbearing, totally outside polite society. Just as powerful is what's hidden: Mary Alice discovers kindness and grace as well as snakes in the attic. Most moving is Mary Alice's own growth. During a tornado she leaves her shelter to make sure that Grandma is safe at home. In fact, as Mary Alice looks back, it's clear that Grandma has remained her role model, never more generous than when she helped her granddaughter leave. --Hazel Rochman
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.
School Library Journal Gr 5-8-Peck charms readers once again with this entertaining sequel to A Long Way from Chicago (Dial, 1998). This time, 15-year-old Mary Alice visits Grandma Dowdel alone for a one-year stay, while her parents struggle through the recession of 1937 looking for jobs and better housing. With her older brother, Joey, working out west in a government program, Mary Alice takes a turn at recounting memorable and pivotal moments of her year with Grandma. Beneath the woman's fierce independence and nonconformity, Mary Alice discovers compassion, humor, and intuition. She watches her grandmother exact the perfect revenge on a classmate who bullies her on the first day of school, and she witnesses her "shameless" tactics to solicit donations from Veteran's Day "burgoo" eaters whose contributions are given to Mrs. Abernathy's blind, paralyzed, war-veteran son. From her energetic, eccentric, but devoted Grandma, she learns not only how to cook but also how to deal honestly and fairly with people. At story's end, Mary Alice returns several years later to wed the soldier, Royce McNabb, who was her classmate during the year spent with Grandma. Again, Peck has created a delightful, insightful tale that resounds with a storyteller's wit, humor, and vivid description. Mary Alice's memories capture the atmosphere, attitudes, and lifestyle of the times while shedding light on human strengths and weak- nesses.-Gerry Larson, Durham School of the Arts, NC Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
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Publishers Weekly In this suspenseful crime thriller from megaseller King (Doctor Sleep), ex-detective Bill Hodges is settling badly into his retirement. Then he receives a taunting letter from someone who claims to be the Mercedes Killer-the media's name for the hit-and-run driver who, a year earlier, deliberately plowed a stolen car into a crowd at a job fair, killing eight and maiming 15. Hoping to wrap up the unsolved case, Hodges follows the letter writer to an anonymous social media chat site, inaugurating a game of cat and mouse with escalating stakes and potentially fatal consequences. Bill's antagonist is Brady Hartsfield, a sociopath who is skilled in computers and electronics and who-with a touch of brilliant irony-also operates the neighborhood ice cream truck. Coincidence and luck figure significantly in the final outcome, but King excels in his disturbing portrait of Brady, a genuine monster in ordinary human form who gives new meaning to the phrase "the banality of evil." Agent: Chuck Verrill, Darhansoff & Verrill Literary Agents. (June) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Library Journal After having written over 50 horror, sf/fantasy, and suspense novels, King pens his first hard-boiled detective thriller. A maniac accelerates a Mercedes into hundreds of unemployed applicants lined up at a job fair-killing eight and wounding 15. Det. Bill Hodges, a streetwise inspector, searches unsuccessfully for the Mercedes killer. After he retires, the bored detective receives a crazed note from the lunatic driver, Brady Hartfield, who promises to strike again in an even more diabolical manner. Hodges's talented and eccentric assistants unravel Brady's convoluted computer records revealing when he intends to drive a wheelchair strapped with eplosives into a concert arena jam-packed with screaming teenyboppers. VERDICT King's customary use of bizarre events and freakish characters does not provide a credible basis for this detective novel. Also, he encumbers the plotline with insignificant details, causing his thriller to plod along rather than pulse with the tension and suspense often characteristic of detective fiction. [Prepub Alert, 1/1/14.]-Jerry P. Miller, Cambridge, MA (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Book list King's interest in crime fiction was evident from his work for the Hard Case Crime imprint The Colorado Kid (2005) and Joyland (2013) but this is the most straight-up mystery-thriller of his career. Retired Detective Bill Hodges is overweight, directionless, and toying with the idea of ending it all when he receives a jeering letter from the Mercedes Killer, who ran down 23 people with a stolen car but evaded Hodges' capture. With the help of a 17-year-old neighbor and one victim's sister (who, in proper gumshoe style, Hodges quickly beds), Hodges begins to play cat-and-mouse with the killer through a chat site called Under Debbie's Blue Umbrella. Hodges' POV alternates with that of the troubled murderer, a Norman Bates-like ice-cream-truck driver named Brady Hartfield. Both Hodges and Hartfield make mistakes, big ones, leaving this a compelling, small-scale slugfest that plays out in cheery suburban settings. This exists outside of the usual Kingverse (Pennywise the Clown is referred to as fictive); add that to the atypical present-tense prose, and this feels pretty darn fresh. Big, smashing climax, too. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: No need to rev the engine here; this baby will rocket itself out of libraries with a loud squeal of the tires.--Kraus, Daniel Copyright 2010 Booklist
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