Jerome Charyn Back to Bataan

ISBN 13: 9780374304768

Back to Bataan

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9780374304768: Back to Bataan
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Hiding out in Riverside Park after lashing out at the boy who stole his girlfriend, Jack joins ranks with a group of vagrants and is soon under the sway of a man called the Leader, a charismatic ex-convict.

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From Kirkus Reviews:

In a veteran author's weak first novel for young people--set in 1943 New York--a boy bounces between the palatial Upper West Side digs of a hated classmate and a hobo's makeshift shelter in Riverside Park. Jack Dalton, 11-year-old scholarship student at a posh private school, has two ambitions: to enlist and avenge his father's death at Bataan; and to marry classmate Mauricette. When he mentions the latter in a composition, she dumps him for Alfredo, gloating scion of a school trustee. Invited to Alfredo's for a party, Jack sets a fire in the sink and flees to the park, where he falls in with a bum (``The Leader''), who charms him at first, then extorts money and is later arrested for unspecified crimes. Readers who dig deep will find a metaphorical level, but they're not likely to make the effort. Victory gardens and ration stamps aren't enough to establish a sense of time or place, while Charyn displays neither sympathy nor understanding for his young folk, who--unlike some of the adults (Jack's grieving mother; a German-American janitor)--show not a trace of genuine feeling or strength of character. The plot jibs arbitrarily, ending with Jack's graduation and a labored platitude about the value of a father figure. Wartime New York gets a livelier evocation in Avi's ALA Notable ``Who Was That Masked Man, Anyway?'' (Fiction. 10-12) -- Copyright ©1993, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

From School Library Journal:

Grade 7-9-- Depressed after his father's death at Bataan during World War II, Jack Dalton, 11, faces a host of problems. He's tired of being a scholarship student at an exclusive private school, and angry after being thrown over by his so-called "fiancee," Mauricette, for a bullying rich kid, Arturo. When his anger boils over, he sets a fire to his rival's mansion. Thinking that he has destroyed the entire house, Jack runs away and falls in with a gang of criminals, the leader of whom is appropriately called, The Leader. However, before he can exert an evil influence over Jack, the boy is rescued, eventually assists the police, and becomes a hero. This is a strange novel. The narrative is told mostly in the first-person, present tense, but readers never come to know Jack very well. His downfall and his recovery come too quickly, and the entire business about his love life is simply bizarre. (Jack is inspired to commit arson after attending an engagement party for preadolescent Mauricette and Arturo.) Charyn achieves a mysterious overall tone, and conveys a certain surreal quality, but young people are likely to find this story baffling. --Todd Morning, Schaumburg Township Public Library, IL
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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