Parents' Guide to

Tales of the Madman Underground: An Historical Romance 1973

By Debra Bogart, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 16+

Raw, raunchy tale of survival best for mature teems.

Tales of the Madman Underground: An Historical Romance 1973 Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this book.

Community Reviews

age 14+

Based on 1 parent review

age 14+

I don't know about Romance, but this is a good book

I find that this book, despite the colorful use of vocabulary, to be a good book. While this book deals with matters that most people would actually leave behind closed doors such as Karl's parents relationship, how loose his mother is, and the not-so-glamorous issues that some writes avoid. While there is humor in order to lighten the load, you can still fill the frustration that Karl feels as his mother's destructive behavior and his need to try and fit in. But in the end, there is a light in the tunnel, and a small metamorphosis happens for the good. John Barne's style is very fluid and rather believable as well as how in depth his characters are. Though I wouldn't suggest 11 yr olds reading this, this book has a good discussion points a diamond in the rough.

This title has:

Too much swearing
Educational value
Great messages

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (1):
Kids say (3):

This is high school in hell, but Karl keeps his sense of humor and hope; the book is frenetic, fast-paced, funny, and painfully revealing about the kids that society lets slip through the cracks. They're the ones who would rather hide from their parents and go hungry than get sent to foster care or detention homes. Some of them are driven to abusive and self-destructive behavior by their parents' abuse, but a few of them are just mentally unstable themselves. Thrown together by teachers who think they are helping, these kids form a volatile group who help each other survive.

The main character is luckily a very resilient young man who can't turn his back on his friends, or hardly anyone else. Karl's history of mutilating small animals and the self-destructive tendencies of his friends are nearly as difficult to read about as the adults in this small town who turn their backs on these kids, even though they know what is going on behind closed doors. Brutally sad, but ultimately hopeful, this book is only for older, mature teens, and not even all of them.

Book Details

  • Author: John Barnes
  • Genre: Coming of Age
  • Book type: Fiction
  • Publisher: Viking
  • Publication date: June 1, 2009
  • Publisher's recommended age(s): 14 - 17
  • Number of pages: 532
  • Last updated: July 12, 2017

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