Saturday, June 7, 2008

First Boy by Gary Schmidt

Main character: Fourteen-year-old Cooper Jewett
Location: New Hampshire
Time period: Contemporary
Genre: YA Fiction, Political Thriller

Cooper loves his life on the dairy farm with his grandfather. It's just the two of them now that grandmother has died. Cooper helps out at the farm before and after school, and has no ambition beyond staying on the farm forever. But then his grandfather dies too, and Cooper is left alone. He is determined to keep the farm, and accepts the help of two neighbors, Mrs. Perley and Mr. Searle. But then odd things start happening. A black car seems to be following Cooper through town. He finds his birth certificate, but his parents' names are blanked out. The house is broken into and the small barn is burned. Then Cooper is approached by Senator Wickham, who wants Cooper to help him in his presidential campaign, representing the struggle of small farmers. But Cooper distrusts the Senator and believes that he has ulterior motives.

This was a very enjoyable thriller. Cooper is a likable character with a strong sense of self--he needs it to withstand all the adults who want to use him for their own purposes. The answer to the main mystery--why the Senator's attention is focused on Cooper--isn't that surprising since clues are well-laid, and Cooper's reaction is well in keeping with what we know of his character.

First Boy was on the 2006-2007 Lone Star Book list.

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