• Title: Never So Green
  • Author: Tim Johnston
  • Released: 2002-10-31
  • Language: English
  • Pages: 240
  • ISBN: 0374355096
  • ISBN13: 978-0374355098
  • ASIN: 0374355096
From Publishers Weekly The summer of 1974 is the best of times and the worst of times for sixth-grade graduate Tex Donleavy, who has grown up self-conscious about his deformed right hand. He discovers a new love, baseball; he also uncovers an almost unbearable secret. This impressive first novel opens as the school year ends, when Tex (who has been living with his divorced father) temporarily moves to his recently remarried mother's house. There he meets his boyish stepsister, Jack, a girl his own age who stirs up unfamiliar, confusing feelings in him. Their relationship grows increasingly complicated after Tex receives something Jack has always wanted-a chance to play ball on her father's boys-only Little League team. As Tex starts to feel comfortable with his new family and gains self-esteem through his newfound athletic prowess, his world begins to look as "green" as a baseball diamond. Then he witnesses a shocking act of sexual abuse that dramatically alters his view of his stepfather and stepsister. This hard-hitting tale candidly addresses once-taboo issues in a manner relevant to adolescents. Rather than preaching a moral lesson, Johnston raises provocative questions about family loyalty and the distinctions made between lust, love and endangerment. At the same time, his third-person narration gives Tex a distinctive, wry voice (e.g., Tex describes classmate Melanie Bloom as "a nice, shy, freckled girl who just that spring had undergone the promise of her name"). Although the subject matter is disturbing, it is handled well, and readers will experience cathartic relief as the novel reaches its conclusion. Ages 12-up.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From School Library Journal Grade 7-9-It is summer in the early 1970s in Big River, IA, and 12-year-old Tex Donleavy thinks he's going to spend it reading books and spying on his dad's young, sexy girlfriend. Instead, he ends up living nearby with his mom; her new baseball-loving husband, Farley; and a stepsister named Jack, who is a first-rate ballplayer but as a girl is forbidden to play on Farley's Little League team. She and her dad help Tex get over his self-consciousness about his withered right hand and transform him into a pitcher who helps the team win the pennant. Off the diamond, the summer also teaches Tex about sex in all its healthy and unhealthy forms. Tex is disturbed by his strong attraction to Jack, then sickened when he discovers that Farley has been molesting her for years. With his father's help, the boy ultimately confronts Farley, as well as his own feelings of betrayal and sexual awakening. The novel ends with a certain feeling of hopelessness on the part of Farley, but Jack shows her spunk and will to survive, and Tex comes to terms, at least temporarily, with his feelings for her. Johnston has written a very mature novel about kids being forced to deal with adult problems. He handles these themes with deftness and control. Sometimes the baseball scenes are overly jargoned, and there are times that the book seems fixated on sex. But then, many adolescent boys are, too. All in all, this powerful novel approaches tough themes, and doesn't give away any easy answers.
Linda Bindner, formerly at Truman State University, Kirksville, MO
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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