Elvin Bishop's uncle is a lot like Elvin's father. They're both dead, for instance. But Elvin's cool with that; it's the way it's been for as long as he can remember.
Then one day it turns out that Uncle Alex isn't exactly dead. He is, instead, sitting on the couch, chewing a scone, and preparing to make up for lost time by fixing his sad-sack nephew before it's too late. Not long out of prison and perhaps not long for this world, Alex embarks on a crash course of tough love designed to turn Elvin into a real Bishop man.
Despite his mighty powers of resistance and denial, Elvin is dragged on an odyssey that introduces him to glam tuba, hellfire-hot food, and the horrors of gym membership. Along the way he finds things he never wanted to look for -- lost relatives, history, roots, regrets, and his own wobbly brand of strength.
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Chris Lynch is a National Book Award finalist and the author of several highly acclaimed books for young adults, including Me, Dead Dad, & Alcatraz and the Michael L. Printz Honor Book Freewill, as well as Iceman, Shadow Boxer, Gold Dust, and Slot Machine, all four ALA Best Books for Young Adults and winners of several other prestigious awards. He holds an MFA from the writing program at Emerson College. He lives in Scotland and has two children.From School Library Journal:
Grade 8-10–In this darkly comic follow-up to Slot Machine (1995) and Extreme Elvin (1999, both HarperCollins), Elvin Bishop, 14, must deal with an uncle's return from the dead and unsettling questions about everything from his family history to his own sexuality. This novel can stand alone, but readers already familiar with the chubby, anxious, but kindhearted teen and his friends Mikie and Frankie may have an easier time getting into the story. Elvin, who lives with his widowed mother, is shocked to discover that his uncle--supposedly dead from a plane crash–is alive, well, and sitting on the living-room couch. Uncle Alex is out of prison and determined to make up for his checkered past by becoming a father figure to his nephew. Madcap adventures ensue, the funniest of which may be Elvin's attempt to replicate handsome Frankie's hairstyle. Inevitably, Elvin ends up with a frizzy perm and a color between orange and green. Alex's brief presence in Elvin's life creates chaos but also brings understanding. The teen learns to drop his sarcasm and self-deprecating humor to let his true emotions shine through. Some readers may struggle with his ongoing internal dialogue, which sometimes bogs the story down. Still, most will identify with Elvin's outsider status and enjoy his hilarious missteps on the path to adulthood.–Miranda Doyle, San Francisco Public Library
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