Whenever everything seems to be going well, something terrible is going to happen soon. When Doug gets a baseball cap signed by Joe Pepitone (the Joe Pepitone of the Yankees!), it is inevitable that his jerk older brother steals it. And when he is finally feeling happy on Long Island with friends and a baseball team, it is inevitable that his father mouths off to his boss, loses his job, and moves the family upstate to stupid Marysville, New York. Which means that they’ll be living near Ernie Eco (the jerk). Which means that Doug’s father will be going out drinking every night with Ernie Eco (the jerk) and his brother will still act like the evil criminal mind he is and his mother will still stare into the distance like she’s wishing she had a different life–or maybe wondering when Lucas will come home from Vietnam. And it turns out that everyone in stupid Marysville looks at Doug like he’s the scum of the earth. Terrific. But when Doug discovers a book in the library with an extraordinary painting of a terrified bird plunging toward an icy sea, he is inspired to uncover a new side of himself and the people of Marysville. Of course whenever everything seems to be going well, something terrible must be about to happen. . . .
Through brilliantly written first person narration, Schmidt gradually reveals Doug’s transformation and the evolution of his relationships with friends, family, and neighbors. Not only is the coming-of-age story compelling and accessible, but tense character relationships add suspense that makes this book difficult to put down. It will appeal to middle grade readers and teens (and even adults, especially those who grew up in the sixties) who enjoy coming-of-age stories and historical fiction.
Doug’s voice makes this book exceptional, and Lincoln Hoppe’s performance of the audiobook is perfect. I highly recommend listening to this one!