Angry Young Man by Chris Lynch
My rating: 1 of 5 stars
Of the tall stack of YA books I've read since early November, I struggled the most with Chris Lynch's Angry Young Man. I just couldn't read through a chapter without feeling like I was wasting my time, but I pushed through the book anyway to be fair. At times it took me two to three sittings per chapter to move through it; I found other distractions easily...such as filling the dog's water dish.
No offense to the author intended, but I really felt like I wasted my time with this novel.
(Note: I can't speak about the book without including a spoiler here, so if you intend to read Angry Young Man you're better off leaving my review now and experiencing it for yourself.)
The story itself: a pair of post-high school brothers try to find their way in a house barely kept afloat by a single mother struggling to make ends meet. A bill collector intrudes on their house and family, pounding on the door, calling on the phone at all hours of the day and night. One of the brothers spends a lot of time with a local militant hell bent on causing damage and inflicting harm to making the world a better place one night at a time. It all meets at the end where the brothers take a homemade bomb and place it under the bill collector's desk (to prove a point?)--and then think better of it as they leave. They run back in, convince the guy who is just doing his job to chase them (which saves his life as the building goes boom), and live happily ever after because the bill collector suspects someone else and these two kids get off clean...everyone in their family maintains a job and they bond as a family, making it work one day at a time.
The story didn't speak to me on any level--as a reader, teacher, admirer of good story telling... Written in first-person narrative the story contained a lot of summary. I never felt any emotional connection with any circumstance. Their angst, anger, frustration, deviance, love for their mother or each other fell completely flat and ineffectual.
The reader is kept at a distance from a plot which never really sorts itself out. At the moment that you might start to believe that the younger brother is lost in the seedy underbelly of a homegrown terrorist then story conveniently ends with all is well.
I thought a writer's job was to be brutal with his/her characters. Raise the stakes. Raise the what next factor. Lynch totally bails his characters out and left me wishing I bailed when I first suspected a problem existed. For all of the huff and puff of the terms "terrorist" and "bomb" this book delivered as much disappointment as a hollow chocolate bunny.
I do not recommend this for your classroom library--there is too much going on in the world of YA literature to settle for this novel.
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