Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Kirkus Says "crackles with originality" and Booklist Gives it a Star!

On Friday, I got my first review! It's from Kirkus. Here's what they said:

It's the summer of 1969, when astronauts land on the moon, and Tamara Ann Simpson is not having a good time. Foster child and best friend Kebsie has suddenly moved away and now Douglas McGinty is in her spot with Mrs. Kutchner. Tammy dubs him "Muscle Man" after one outrageous lie, determined to give him his comeuppance in front of the whole gang. Fierce and plaintive, Tammy's voice crackles with originality and yet is completely childlike. The '60s setting comes to life with sharply honed details like kickball games, ice-cream trucks, soap operas, references to "the man" and the loss of life to the Vietnamese war. The authenticity of the time and the voice combine with a poignant plot to reveal a depth unusual in such a straightforward first-person narrative. Showing a neighborhood still webbed together by typical daily contact, the characters are individually distinct and real. Also real is the fact that Tammy's tenacity is never fully appreciated, even as she softens her principles and becomes slightly more understanding than seemed possible in the beginning. (Historical fiction. 8-12)

And then yesterday, a starred review from Booklist! I've been doing a lot of jumping up and down!

Advanced Review – Uncorrected Proof
Issue: April 15, 2009
Neil Armstrong Is My Uncle and Other Lies Muscle Man McGinty Told Me.
Marino, Nan (Author)
May 2009. 160 p. Roaring Brook/hardcover, $16.95. (9781596434998).
It is rare to have a story told with sympathy from the viewpoint of a bully. This debut novel, set in upstate New York in the summer of 1969, does just that with wit and a light touch that never denies the story's sorrows. Tammy, 10, is stuck at home with her cold parents while her brother is away in Vietnam. In her first-person narrative, she reveals the hurt and loneliness that fuel her anger as she targets the new, skinny kid, Douglas, who has moved into a foster home on the block. She mocks him for telling wild lies: he is training for the Olympics; his uncle is Neil Armstrong, about to walk on the moon; and more. The other kids, including the snotty girls from the loving family next door, let him be. Why is Tammy so furious?Gradually the reader sees that she blames Douglas for the disappearance of her beloved only friend, a foster kid who moved away without telling Tammy why and where she was going. Douglas is a bit too nice, but he messes up when he tries to help Tammy, and many readers will recognize the muddled and caring gestures among friends and enemies.
— Hazel Rochman


Anna M. Lewis said...

So cool!
Jumping up and down with you!

Anonymous said...

Yay, Nan!! I'm joining you in a Happy Dance!! !!! You've worked so hard... so sit back and ENJOY every minute of it.

You think you're jumping now...just wait until you hold your baby in your hands for the very first time : )

Anonymous said...

Wow, I am certain more and more great reviews will be coming in..... the countdown is slowly approaching. Everyone can join the snoopy happy dance too!

nanmarino said...

Thanks Anna, SA and vtrebore! :)

MR said...

I especially love that the Booklist reviewer recognized the courage of letting your main character be an unapologetic antagonist. A perfect, too-good-to-be-true heroine would not be nearly as believable or sympathetic. We identify with her because, at heart, she's us.

nanmarino said...

I'm so thrilled with that review. The strange thing is that I never thought of my MC as a bully. It's very fun to have conversations about it with people who've read the ARC.