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The Car


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About the Author

GARY PAULSEN has written nearly two hundred books for young people, including the Newbery Honor Books Hatchet, Dogsong, and The Winter Room. He divides his time between a home in New Mexico and a boat on the Pacific Ocean.


Fourteen-year-old Terry Anders is a 1990s Huck Finn, with parents as neglectful as ``Pap.'' Like Huck he escapes, not on a raft but by constructing a kit car. He takes his red Blakely Bearcat out to the highway and points it west, intending to leave his home in Cleveland for Oregon, where he hopes to find the uncle he only vaguely remembers. Long before he reaches his destination, Terry meets up with a middle-aged wanderer named Waylon, who introduces him to his old friend, the free-living Wayne. The pair, Vietnam vets, lead the young protagonist on a string of impromptu adventures and eventually become his mentors, introducing him to the history, hypocrisy and beauty of his country. Besides evoking a type of independence and tough-mindedness that will appeal to teens, this provocative novel introduces and explores some interesting philosophies of life while stressing the value of learning from experience. Once again the Newbery Honor author demonstrates his abilities to create flesh-and-blood characters and to relate a message without preaching a moral. Ages 12-up. (Apr.)

Gr 7-10-After Terry's parents desert him, he puts together a kit car, a Blakesley Bearcat, and heads west in Gary Paulsen's novel (Harcourt, 1994). Intending to travel from Cleveland, Ohio, to Portland, Oregon, to find his uncle, he meets up with Tom Wayland and Wayne, hitchhiking Vietnam veterans. The pair teaches Terry about "trucking" as they visit various places in the Midwest, and Terry finds himself learning more than he'd ever imagined. Ostensibly a road trip story, Paulsen deftly weaves in deeper themes of the consequences of war, the meaning of family, and finding oneself. Luke Daniels's narration brings Wayland's troubled gruffness and Wayne's laidback biker drawl to life, as well as Paulsen's vivid descriptions of Terry's stick-shift driving. Excellent for teens to listen to on long summer trips.-Michaela Schied, Indian River Middle School, Philadelphia, NY (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

This provocative novel introduces and explores some interesting philosophies of life while stressing the value of learning from experience.--Publishers Weekly

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