Seventeen-year-old Will is desperate to find meaning in life following the sudden death of his mother. Overwhelmed by the parade of sympathy casseroles, his cynical older brother and a father who is attempting to bury his sorrow in work, Will embarks on a quest to find the answers he needs. His search leads him to the works of famous philosophers such as Kierkegaard, Nietzsche and Plato. He tries using drugs and tagging the tunnel walls of the train system. He develops the roll of film he finds in his mother's camera and takes some of his own, which punctuate the text of this Australian import. But it is his new relationship with Taryn, a beautiful and sympathetic friend, that holds the most promise for him. Hills's rich imagery and masterful storytelling come together to create a tale that is both poetic and compelling. Complex and authentic characters drive the narrative forward and keep it from becoming overly sentimental or familiar. Readers will sympathize with Will's heartbreak, revel in his first love and recoil from his anger. A well-crafted story from a new voice. (Fiction. 14 & up)Copyright Kirkus 2010 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.
After a childhood spent moving constantly across two countries, Rex wonders why his parents can't settle down. At least this time, Rex and his seven siblings are only moving to the other side of Ottawa. He'll still be switching to a new school, though, which means leaving Kathy, James and Buster at the beginning of grade seven. Rex has a cunning plan: He volunteers to arrange the transfer paperwork as a favor to his exhausted mum and then simply doesn't do it. Sure, he'll spend every scrounged penny on buses, but it'll be worth it. Right? Then why does his life feel so complicated? He's the target of a hockey-playing bully, sister Annie Oakley's cooking up something evil in the garden shed and Mum's acting funny. This 1963 pre-adolescence presents an imperfect world with flaws Rex is just barely beginning to understand. Rex as a narrator is fully in his time: Penny loafers, Hardy Boys novels and gender inequity are all seen through his utterly contemporaneous, completely ingenuous eyes. Genuinely wholesome, packed with affectionate humor, tension and joy. (Historical fiction. 9-12)Copyright Kirkus 2010 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.
Gr 5-8--When Rex Zero finds out that his family is moving yet again, he is devastated. Although the move is only across town, it means that he will start middle school at Connaught instead of at Hopewell with James, Buster, and Kathy. The four friends decide that regardless of the Ottawa City Council's views on zoning, Rex should attend Hopewell as planned. His records have already been sent over there, and when he offers to take his enrollment paperwork to the new school for his mother, she gratefully accepts: the chores of moving households and raising a family of eight are exhausting. In 1963, it is easy enough for the boy to make his enrollment paperwork disappear and to use the crosstown buses to get to Hopewell. The deception is successful for a while, but Rex learns in the process how taxing the life of a pretender can be. Complicating matters are a budding romance with one of his classmates, threats from a bully and his sidekicks, and a secret laboratory experiment that his older sister is conducting in the back shed. Family dynamics and friendships are skillfully fleshed out, with fully developed characters to whom readers will readily relate. The humor of Rex's first-person narration does not diminish Wynne-Jones's ability to deal with tough issues candidly, and the resolution fully satisfies. This title does stand alone, but it will be most appreciated in libraries where Rex already has a strong following.--Kim Dare, Fairfax County Public Schools, VA[Page 129]. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.