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The irreproachable Shepherd Catlett is surprised to learn that freshman Mary Sutherland, who runs with a very fast crowd, has her sights on him, in a novel about the fine line separating love from lust.
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Gr. 9-12. Shep Catlett and his best friend, Tara Garza, are "stump-jumpers" from the rural area around Burnside High. As such, Shep feels he is an outcast, so he is surprised when attractive, popular Mary Sutherland takes an interest in him. When he realizes that her interest includes a physical relationship, Shep promptly declares himself in love. After discovering that Mary is spending her nights getting drunk with a wild crowd, Shep appoints himself her savior until she makes it clear she doesn't want to be saved. Tara tries to convince him that Mary might be a victim, but he stubbornly denies his emotions until a cowboy-style duel at school endangers both Mary and Tara and forces Shep to face his true feelings. The author establishes that Shep, with his own subscription to Time and his no-nonsense rural upbringing, is not the typical high-school senior, but, even so, the first person talk-at-you narration reads too much like the tongue-in-cheek recollections of an adult who likes to preach a bit. Shep's awareness of his vulnerabilities is endearing, but his tendency to look at girls as attractive objects who need him to save them from themselves might annoy female readers, and the shoot-'em-up ending is too camp and unmotivated to support the resolution. Nevertheless, for pleasure reading, teenage boys will identify with Shep, his raging hormones, false bravado, insecurities, and good heart, and they will certainly enjoy the tell-just-enough scenes between Shep and Mary. Jeanne TrinerFrom School Library Journal:
Grade 8 Up-Shepherd and Tara have been best friends their whole lives. They live in Vermont farming and logging country, 20 miles from the high school they attend, near boys like Dwayne and Dwight Delbert, who hunt coons and feel uncomfortable in a school where both students and teachers make fun of their "hick" ways. When Shep meets Mary Sutherland, a sexually precocious freshman who just happens to need his help with Spanish, he begins lying to Tara and his parents in order to be with her. When he sees the phys ed teacher beat up Dwayne, he wants to report the incident to the principal, but Dwayne won't let him, knowing it won't do any good. Later, when Shep tries to save Mary from her newly found world of sex and sleazy friends, he is brutally beaten for his efforts and, humiliated, retreats temporarily into self-pitying isolation. His first-person narrative captures aspects of the high school scene perfectly-the cool guys; the jocks and cheerleaders; the teachers and administrators who don't have a clue; and the uninvolved parents. Into this mix comes Shep himself, a likable boy with a disarming, self-deprecating manner and caring parents. While the final scene (in which Dwayne extracts his due revenge) is somewhat unbelievable, it really doesn't matter. Most YAs will cheer for the happy ending.
Evelyn Carter Walker, Alexandrian Public Library, Mt. Vernon, IN
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Book Description Henry Holt & Co, 1993. Condition: New. book. Seller Inventory # M080502106X
Book Description Henry Holth & Co (J), 1993. Hardcover. Condition: New. Seller Inventory # DADAX080502106X