Cosmos Coyote and William the Nice

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9780064472562: Cosmos Coyote and William the Nice

The last thing he expected was love.

Juvenile detention or farm life in Iowa? Cosmos Coyote doesn't really have a choice after his last run-in with the law.

Iowa is nothing like Seattle: the smells, the people, his ultra-religious relatives, church every Sunday. Cosmos will have to hide his real self -- the "Coyote" -- behind his new persona, "William the Nice."

But who is more real: Cosmos or William? All he knows for sure is that he's falling for a girl whose Christian faith is as strong as she is beautiful and smart. Can their desire for each other stay within the rules set by her beliefs? How can they be together, when everything about their world seems to keep them apart?

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Review:

Seventeen-year-old Seattle native Cosmos DeHaag's life of petty crime has finally caught up with him. As punishment for his small-time offenses, Cosmos is sentenced to a school year on his uncle's farm in Iowa. There, he determines that his true trickster personality, Cosmos Coyote, will have to hide behind the mask of his well-behaved alter ego, William the Nice. But no one is more surprised than Cosmos when he ends up falling for the most devout Christian girl in town, Cherlyn Van Dyke, and she for him. These two navigate the rough waters of sexual temptation and disapproving parents in an amusing and poignant journey that will try both the faith and the funny bones of teen readers.

Although author Jim Heynan's rendition of teen-speak is a bit unrealistic (lovesick Cosmos utters phrases like "There's more sparkle in your smile than in the stars. There's more light in your eyes than the moon"), the discussions between Cosmos and Cherlyn about religion are thought-provoking. Many teens will find their own musings about God echoed in the voices of these characters, even if those voices aren't quite right. What is right are Heynan's settings. He evokes the Iowa cattle fields with descriptions that are lovingly crafted and often hilarious. His take on the scent of cow manure is typical: "If there is an aphrodisiac, this smell must be the anti-aphrodisiac. Iowa birth control." Cosmos Coyote compares favorably with Randy Powell's Tribute to Another Dead Rock Star, which also deals with a Seattle teen's spiritual struggle. (Ages 13 to 17) --Jennifer Hubert

About the Author:

Jim Heynen grew up in rural Iowa and lived and taught in the Pacific Northwest for many years. He is the author of One Room Schoolhouse for adults. His first children's book, Being Youngest, was published in paperback by HarperCollins in Spring/Summer 2000. He is a writer-in-residence affiliated with St. Olaf College in Minnesota.

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