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The unusual thing about McIntyre's debut is its division into sections corresponding to the six steps of the scientific method, a structure that gives support to the various stories of Eula, ID, residents in the 1980s. Two adolescent boys are at the center of the story. Gene and Enrique are smart and bookish and perfect misfits in a school full of bullies and mental lightweights. A science fair project dominates their lives; they want to replicate a phenomenon called a lake overturn. At Lake Nyos in Cameroon, unknown gases from the lake floor were released so rapidly that they enveloped surrounding houses and towns within minutes, silently killing thousands of people. Using the scientific method, Gene and Enrique's crude diorama demonstrates how a similar event could happen near Eula at Lake Overlook. Step seven, the presentation, becomes an epilog resolving many of the entanglements that have kept us engrossed from the beginning. Maybe McIntyre is suggesting that life in Eula is one big scientific experiment, but he illuminates with humor and sympathy the mundane lives of group of vivid characters.-Donna Bettencourt, Mesa Cty. P.L., Grand Junction, CO (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.
A real-life natural disaster inspires a school science-fair project at the center of this ambitious first novel. Seventh-graders Enrique Cortez and his fellow geek friend and neighbor Gene Anderson speculate about why 1,700 people died around Lake Nyos in Cameroon in 1986 and whether the same thing could happen near their local Lake Overlook in Eula, Idaho. This is the taking-off point for McIntyre (You Are Not the One: Stories, 2004), as he links Enrique's coming-of-age and struggle with his sexuality to other Eulans, revealing broken families, lingering death, betrayal, loss, and friendships and romances, both requited and unrequited. Race and class are sometimes barriers, as Enrique's older brother, Jay, longs for his best friend's sister, and sometimes not, as the boys' mother, Lina, embarks on an affair with a man whose house she cleans while his wife is dying of cancer. Yet, however well crafted these characters are, as they seek approval or love during a year in Eula, this seems more a series of closely connected short stories than a fully realized novel.--Leber, Michele Copyright 2009 Booklist