Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Gentlemen by Michael Northrop

Michael and his friends -- Tommy, Mixer and Bones -- are assigned to remedial classes. Nobody expects much from them. Fifteen-year-old Michael, who narrates the story, is probably the smartest of the four, but he doesn't see the point in making an effort. Mr. Haberman, their English teacher, addresses them as gentlemen, but no one takes that old guy seriously. Until Tommy goes missing. And it appears that Mr. Haberman might have something to do with his disappearance.

A tense and gritty story about stifled lives in a small town with few opportunities. A gay subplot is handled well. Michael's voice is believable and unique enough to stand out amid the many teen novels narrated in first person. There were times when he could not quite find the words, as when he searched for "non sequitur" -- he knew there was some kind of word to describe that but could only come up with "non sequence."

The body bag pictured on the cover is a bit of overkill, but maybe that's what it takes to get some readers to pick up a book. The novel that the boys are supposed to be studying in Mr. Haberman's class is Crime and Punishment. They do learn about consequences to their actions. It's also a book about how friendships and loyalties change as boys come of age. Grade 7 - up

No comments: