This understated novel from Rosen (The Hound Dog's Haiku) is composed of alternating poems written from the perspectives of two boys whose lives briefly intersect. The year is 1969, and 13-year-old Perry travels via train between his grandparents' houses in Cincinnati and Wapakoneta, Ohio. In his notebook, he reflects on his father, who is missing in Vietnam; writes to his sister, Annie; and struggles with feelings of rootlessness: "What's home to me since I have two homes now/ (one with Mom and Grandpa, one with Gran),/ two closets of clothes, two desks,/ two beds where I sleep, two dogs." Nine-year-old Steve, weighed down by chores, is both fascinated and a little intimidated by the larger world outside his family's farm ("With luck, one day/ I'll ride the train--the whole route--/ not just dream it"). Rosen's poetry, mostly blank verse, circles contemplatively around themes of powerlessness, longing, and growing up. The novel travels at a satisfying hum, though Steve and Perry's quiet reflections have a restraint at times too timid to leave a lasting impression. Ages 10-up. Agent: Ruben Pfeffer, East West Literary. (June)[Page ]. Copyright 2012 PWxyz LLC
Gr 5-7--It is 1969. Thirteen-year-old Perry's father is MIA in Vietnam. Nine-year-old Steve is stuck working on the family farm. Each week Perry rides the Cincinnatian across rural Ohio from his grandmother's house to visit his mother, who is away trying to earn a nursing degree, and contemplates his transient life. Steve dreams of escaping the routine of farm life. Their lives briefly intersect throughout the book as they catch glimpses of one another through the train window and imagine how much greener the grass must be in the other's experience. The result is an introspective, quiet portrait of two boys on the brink of young adulthood. The tumultuous era in which their tale is set enters into the picture periodically, most frequently in the form of references to Perry's father and his absent, hippie sister, and sets a fitting backdrop for the boys' inner unrest. Rosen delivers well-crafted verse and plays with a few different poetic forms to paint a vivid portrait of the Ohio landscape, but as the plot ultimately goes little further than that described above, the book will likely struggle to find an audience.--Jill Heritage Maza, Montclair Kimberley Academy, Montclair, NJ[Page 110]. (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.