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American Youth: A Novel by Phil Lamarche
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American Youth: A Novel

by Phil Lamarche

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Ted LeClare, a New England ninth grader, is showing off his father's guns when he hands one to visiting brothers. While he is in another room, one accidentally shoots and kills the other. Ted's terrified mother tells him not to tell the authorities that he loaded the gun. When Ted, who is referred to as the boy throughout the novel, returns to school after this violent incident, he is rejected by most classmates but is befriended by a group who call themselves American Youth. Their interests lie in vandalizing houses in the new subdivisions that are taking over the countryside. The Youth embrace gun rights, vigilante acts, and their own brand of religion that helps them rationalize their activities. As Ted begins to see the Youth for what they really are, he finally tells the truth about loading the gun and begins to feel release from his own guilt and pain. T ( )
  dalzan | May 18, 2012 |
[Cliché alert] - A simple story well told. Ted (Theodore) is involved in an accidental shooting at his house. The novel explores the effect this event has on him and the surrounding community. This is the novelist's first and I felt that he wrote about what he knew. Because of the honest writing all of the events in the novel felt real. I especially enjoyed the scene where the boy helps his uncle skin a deer. This novel was in the adult section of my library, but because it dealt with teenagers trying to makes sense of their world I would recommend it to mature teenagers and anyone who felt like a dose of contemporary US realism. The only jarring thing in this novel was the novelist's decision to use "the boy", "the mother", "the father" etc when speaking of the main protagonist and his family, it seemed a bit contrived. ( )
  rhondagrantham | Mar 17, 2011 |
I kind of pretty much hated this book. I think.

The problem is, I really wanted to like this book, but I never got the point. There was a lot of trauma and suffering, but the main character, Teddy, and his family and "friends" never seemed real to me.

Having worked for years in a "welfare clinic," I have plenty of experience with trauma and its effects on kids, including kids that behave in the way these kids do. A few minutes with real kids gave me more insight into their lives than a whole book of Teddy's thoughts gave me into his life.

Two dimensional as the plot was, I thought maybe it was supposed to be some kind of 'morality play' about gun control, but it doesn't succeed at that, either.

I don't recommend it for teenagers, because it is confusing and pointless. It's hard enough for teens to make sense of this world. ( )
  jms1203 | May 25, 2010 |
I expected to like this book, having read a number of four-star and five-star reviews. For some reason, it never really grabbed me. I guess it was hard for me to believe that guns, alcohol, pot, sex, and vandalism are more or less matter-of-course in a suburban teen's life. It was also difficult to really like Ted (Teddy, Theodore, "the boy") although I could see how he was caught between his mother, the law, and his various "friends". Not a complete waste of time, but I'm not inspired to read more by LaMarche. ( )
  Bellettres | May 11, 2009 |
Taut writing and believable male characterization makes this difficult subject worth reading. Debut novelist. ( )
  toddbcpl | Sep 12, 2007 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0812977408, Paperback)

American Youth is a controlled, essential, and powerful tale of a teenager in southern New England who is confronted by a terrible moral dilemma following a firearms accident in his home. This tragedy earns him the admiration of a sinister gang of boys at his school and a girl associated with them. Set in a town riven by social and ideological tensions an old rural culture in conflict with newcomers this is a classic portrait of a young man struggling with the idea of identity and responsibility in an America ill at ease with itself.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 14:03:39 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

"American Youth is a controlled, essential, and powerful tale of a teenager in southern New England who is confronted by a terrible moral dilemma following a firearms accident in his home. This tragedy earns him the admiration of a sinister gang of boys at his school and a girl associated with them. Set in a town riven by social and ideological tensions - an old rural culture in conflict with newcomers - this is a classic portrait of a young man struggling with the idea of identity and responsibility in an America ill at ease with itself."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

» see all 2 descriptions

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