Paul Many My Life, Take Two

ISBN 13: 9780802787088

My Life, Take Two

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Sixteen-year-old Neal Thackery is trying really hard to follow the logical (but boring) path laid out for him by his mother, his longtime girlfriend, Emily, his guidance counselor, his boss. . . He punches the time clock and does his best to follow directions, but even those who want him to pursue a program of school, job, marriage, and home ownership seem to agree―he may just be too much of a klutz to pull it off. As if Neal doesn't have enough problems, he must turn something in for his documentary film class, and so far all he has are his wild imagination and some strange, dreamlike images of his dead father. But as Neal works on the film, and works through some tough breaks, his past and future begin to make more sense―to him and to everyone. Paul Many's rare combination of irreverent humor and razor-sharp insight into the daily ups and downs of teenage life gives My Life, Take Two a clarity and honesty that readers will recognize and connect with.

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About the Author:

Paul Many is the author of one picture book, The Great Pancake Escape, and three young adult novels, Walk Away Home, My Life, Take Two, and These Are the Rules. My Life, Take Two was named one of New York Public Library's Books for the Teen Age. Paul lives with his family in Toledo, OH.

From School Library Journal:

Grade 6-9-Neal's life is unraveling the summer between his junior and senior years. He has negotiated an incomplete from his film teacher, providing he can produce an acceptable documentary video by the time school reopens. He is still recovering from the death of his father several years earlier, and his girlfriend spews endless criticism and advice about his "failures" to plan and be goal-oriented. Being fired from his summer job with a construction company is further "proof" of his inadequacy to Emily and to his mother. Then he is reacquainted with Claire, who works for the same company and who still lives on the estate where Neal spent his early childhood while his father was the caretaker. The ends tie up in a complex and rather spectacularly tidy denouement. Neal rediscovers the artist within himself, saves Claire and her painter mother from having to sell the now-rundown estate, makes the overdue documentary and earns rave reviews, and realizes that Claire is a better match for him than his reformer girlfriend. The narrative intercuts first-person reportage with video-sequence narration. The ideas and ideals are compelling. However, the pat resolution will frustrate readers who want more literary nuance in their plot lines. An interesting counterpoint to Walter Dean Myers's Monster (HarperCollins, 1999), in which more momentous-but no less emotional-events are also seen and told as though on film.
Francisca Goldsmith, Berkeley Public Library, CA
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Paul Many
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