School Library Journal
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Gr 8 Up-As in Learning to Swim (Scholastic, 2000), Turner addresses an intense subject in lyrical poetry. Mike, 16, has the perfect life-star baseball player, cute girlfriend, and loyal best friend-until the phone call that turns his life upside down. His father has pancreatic cancer. While his friends continue to live their lives, time stands still for Mike. His dad suffers through and begins the wasting away that cancer causes. A short period of remission brings a brief period of celebration. In the end, however, Mike finds that his bargains with God and his attempts to get along better with his sister are all for naught. His father dies and he must find a way to go on with his life. Teens who have experienced serious illness and/or death in their family or with close friends will relate to Turner's profound novel that traces the journey of one young man through the stages of grief and recovery. National help lines, addresses, and Web sites are included for readers who need them.-Kathryn Childs, Morris Mid/High School, OK (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.
Gr. 7-10. Tenth-grader Mark Warren is a golden boy: good friends, a gorgeous girlfriend, and an awesome pitching arm, an arm that his dad has cultivated since Mark was small. Yet all turns gray and meaningless when Mark learns that his father has pancreatic cancer. In a carefully crafted, free-verse narrative, the teen tells of his struggle with faith, hope, and disillusionment as his family watches his father slip away--and the inevitable terror and guilt of those still living. It's a hard, sad, beautifully written book, spare yet with surprisingly well-developed characters. Unlike longer, more complex novels that build layers of emotion through description and events, Turner employs poetry to paint the reality of gradual loss, and the language conveys the absence of all the family has known and its emptiness without its central figure. A short bibliography of resources for children whose parents have died rounds out this special book. --Frances Bradburn Copyright 2006 Booklist