Looking for Jack Kerouac

Barbara Shoup. Engine/Lacewing (Consortium, dist.), $14.95 (208p) ISBN 978-1-938126-47-5
In this strong work of historical fiction set in the 1960s, Paul feels understood for the first time after finding a copy of On the Road during a high school trip to New York City: “Like the book knew who I was, knew what I wanted, and was speaking back to me somehow.” Paul’s mother’s unexpected death upsets his determination to break from his girlfriend’s dreams of marriage, until Duke, a fellow Kerouac devotee, entices him on a road trip to Florida to find their hero. Shoup (Wish You Were Here) creates full-fleshed characters filled with yearning, both those Paul leaves behind and those he meets on his journey. Changes in music, politics, race relations, and attitudes toward Vietnam illuminate the volatile era, rendering Paul’s sense of loss and longing both symptomatic of his era and timeless: “Would it ever stop, I wondered—this constant plummeting backward to that lost time, the happiness, the small comforts and promises I used to take for granted?” A relatable protagonist managing a delicate balance between uncomfortable realities and fertile possibilities makes for a memorable, mature coming-of-age story. Ages 14–up. Agent: David Bennett, Transatlantic Agency. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 06/09/2014
Release date: 08/01/2014
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Ebook - 184 pages - 978-1-938126-67-3
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