Jessie Close The Warping of Al

ISBN 13: 9780060212810

The Warping of Al

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9780060212810: The Warping of Al

A teenager with an overbearing father tries to find a way to live life on his own terms.

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From School Library Journal:

A thorough and sensitive depiction of a dysfunctional family controlled by an authoritarian parent and the variety of coping behaviors manifested by children in such a family. Thirteen-year-old Al, the youngest child and only son of a domineering, primarily absent father and cowering, overburdened mother, introduces readers to his family. In addition to his parents are his three older sisters; Goopie, his beloved grandmother; and Frappe, the cat. Al wants to be a chef, a career his father dismisses since he plans for Al to join his metals procurement business. On a one-day stopover at home, his father announces he will take Al to South America for the summer to learn about the business, but then sends him home early. The story reopens four years later with Al deciding to stand up to his father and live his own life. When Goopie dies, the family gathers and, although the same barriers exist, Al comes to better understand them. Goopie, whose "legends" are the high points of humor and imagination, is the wisest, most loving character, but is powerless to repair the destruction already done to her son, Al's father. Close's style is highly effective, provoking strong images and emotions in readers; however, some weaknesses exist. The story is too protracted, and the first part has too little or too vague a purpose. If Al is 13, why does he sound 30? Some readers will bog down near the end when Al's present-tense narrative describes each minute action or perception. Although it lacks balance and refinement, the book nevertheless reveals Close's considerable potential, and most YAs will identify with Al's personal search. --Ellen Ramsay, Amphitheater High School, Tucson, AZ
Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Publishers Weekly:

Having grown up in a house filled with women, Al Cokel has always felt closer to his mother, three sisters and story-telling grandmother than to his frequently absent father, who expects his son to join the family business instead of becoming a chef, as Al desires. Al's 12th summer is nearly ruined when he is forced to accompany his father to South America to learn about the metals trade. On his return, the boy decides to declare his independence; the next chapter takes place five years later, when he finally leaves home and takes a job in a supermarket. Although Al cannot completely divorce himself from either his past or his family, he refuses to visit his father, until a tragedy reunites the entire family. However interesting and diverse, the characters of this first novel are never fully developed. Many details about Al's experiences seem somewhat tangential and overdrawn, and his growth, realizations and dreams are only superficially sketched. The book does contain some meaningful scenes involving the dynamics of family relationships, yet the lack of focus and awkward plotting weaken its overall effect. Ages 12-up.
Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Close, Jessie
Published by Harpercollins (1990)
ISBN 10: 0060212810 ISBN 13: 9780060212810
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Jessie Close
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