This funny and poignant novel tells the story of Nathan and his best friend, Simon--two 14-year-old boys with a passion for girls, soccer, weekends, girls, computers, and girls. Although Simon is confined to a wheelchair because of muscular dystrophy, his keen sense of humor and taste for excitement are more than a match for his disability.
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Grade 6-8-A sensitively written story of friendship and an informative examination of the experience of a young person afflicted with muscular dystrophy. Nathan, a compassionate 14-year-old, relates how, through his friendship with Simon, he develops an appreciation for life that too often eludes teenagers. A sharp sense of humor underlies each boy's character, which intensifies the honesty of their relationship. Simon's words and actions spotlight the psychological problems faced by the disabled as he explains that he wants to be seen as a human being, not as someone to be avoided or pitied. He is an intelligent boy who is basically well adjusted to his situation. He participates in school as fully as his abilities allow. From the outset, it is clear that he will die during his adolescence, but the author avoids a maudlin tone, thus adding to the book's power. In this excellent novel peopled with multidimensional characters, Hill gives readers a look at this disabling and fatal disease. Booktalk this winner with Jan Slepian's Lester's Turn (Macmillan, 1981; o.p.) and Anne Knowles's Under the Shadow (HarperCollins, 1983).
Renee Steinberg, Fieldstone Middle School, Montvale, NJ
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.
A poignant but unsentimental informational novel featuring a teenager with muscular dystrophy. Simon's wheelchair barely slows him down; as best friend Nathan enviously looks on, he handles girls, teachers, punks, and even babies with cheeky, casual ease. Fully accepted at school and home, he's active in sports, has assigned chores and, as much as possible, takes care of his personal needs; this tour of his world is an eye-opener. Simon is a complex character--mischievous, generous, bossy, manipulative, capable of both rude practical jokes and sensitive poetry, and also strongly opinionated: He tears into telethons that segregate the disabled from mainstream society as well as adults who treat them as if they're invisible. Nathan, too, has intriguing depths; as Simon grows steadily weaker, he struggles not with his inevitable death, which he already accepts, but with his own mingled guilt and relief at drawing an easier lot. Though other characters are a bit too wise and supportive to be believable, this New Zealand author's first novel is a realistic mixture of humor, love, and sorrow. (Fiction. 11-14) -- Copyright ©1994, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.
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