A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that the author raises more questions than he answer in this quiet novel about a boy trying to deal with an increasingly messy home life.
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What's the story?
David's life in Harlem is not easy. His father, Reuben, is, at least, emotionally disturbed: David's brother, Tyrone, says he's just crazy. His unpredictable and sometimes violent outbursts keep everyone on edge. But Tyrone, angry and rebellious, isn't doing too well either: he's hanging with the wrong crowd, catching the interest of police, disappearing for days at a time, and may be involved with drugs.
As David tries to understand and cope, he meets Mr. Moses, an old homeless man in the park, who claims to be 300 years old and the bearer of dreams, which he proposes to pass on to David. These turn out to be stories of the past, compelling in their own right, and mysteriously relevant to David's life.
Is it any good?
This compelling novel of an empathetic boy's 12th summer is a bit like David's summer vacation: It wanders a bit, at times seems to lose focus, and doesn't seem to get much of anywhere. By the end of the story, not much has changed -- except David, who has deepened his understanding of and sympathy for his father.
Punctuated with vivid moments, especially Mr. Moses' stories, it holds readers through the vague, unresolved suspense that David feels every day as he watches his family fall apart and wonders why, and what he can do to save it. At times poignant, at times didactic, it raises many questions that are unresolved, and ends realistically. Though the situation hasn't really changed, David has grown, and therein lies hope.