cover image My Near-Death Adventures (99% True!)

My Near-Death Adventures (99% True!)

Alison DeCamp. Crown, $16.99 (256p) ISBN 978-0-385-39044-6

Set in 1895 in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, DeCamp’s exuberant first novel introduces 11-year-old Stan Slater who, readers quickly come to realize, is unknowingly vocalizing some of his rambling thoughts and wild imaginings, saying aloud things better kept to himself. Once readers acclimate to this narrative quirk, they’ll easily become invested in Stan’s story, which begins with him learning that the father he thought was dead is actually just a deadbeat. (Stan, however, remains “pretty sure he’s a rich cowboy or exploring the wilds of North Pole, unable to contact us because of life-or-death matters.”) Because of the family’s precarious financial situation, Stan, his mother, and his acerbic Granny move to a remote logging camp, where Stan becomes convinced a lumberjack named Stinky Pete is a “cold-blooded killer,” clashes with his cousin Geraldine, and is intensely displeased by his mother’s suitors. Vintage images with irreverent captions (ostensibly taken from Stan’s scrapbook) and imagined letters from Stan’s absent father pepper the pages, adding another layer of comedy to Stan’s freewheeling narration. Ages 8–12. Agent: Sarah Davies, Greenhouse Literary Agency. (Feb.)