Reaching adolescence with "The Speed of Light"
Too much can change over the course of a summer: One day a boy, who used to fill his days experimenting with the boundless variations of baseball, becomes a butt-looker.
“Just when you start to feel a little peace of mind, you become a butt-looker,” says Larry, the narrator of Ron Carlson’s first young adult book, “The Speed of Light.” “I am a butt-looker. Oh, please, let it pass.”
Larry is just about to hit puberty, but he doesn’t want it to come. He cringes when he opens his dresser drawer every morning and finds clippings from the Home Journal on surviving the teens and sex pamphlets his mom leaves.
But, he can’t seem to avoid the surge of hormones – especially when they rush through his body during a street fight.
“I should really spend more time at home,” he says, as he steps into the street fight with a fist full of rocks. “I feel exactly like someone else, someone I don’t know and don’t like very much. This is one more thing I’m going to have to lie to my mother and father about; they deserve a better kid.”
Larry’s friends aren’t jumping into adolescence either. Witt comes from a broken home and buries himself in science experiments. For three magical months of summer, Witt tries to measure the speed of light, figure out how physical pain works and build a time tower. The boys live in a world crammed with mysteries at an age where if they believe something is true or possible, it is.
The book brings the reader back to those months right before puberty – complete with the innocence and curiosity of youth and the suspicion of anyone older than 10 or 11.
“I wrote this book with all my attention,” Carlson said. “It is a fresh, radical look at the last summer in the friendship of three boys; there’s some science, some baseball and some sex, sort of.”
Carlson originally published the chapters in such magazines as The Missouri Review, Carolina Quarterly and Sports Illustrated. He spent a year rewriting the manuscript into a novel, and HarperCollins decided to call it a young adult book.
“I think the book is for readers, whatever their age,” he said. “I’ve only met a few adults who weren’t in fact young.”
Kimberly Nicoletti can be reached at (970) 668-3998 ext. 245 or by e-mail at email@example.com.
Summit Book Club
Summit County has a new book club, and it meets every other Friday in the ETC section of the Summit Daily News.
Our staff will take turns reviewing books with Silverthorne
resident Carrie Brown. Once a month, Brown and her book club – Sally, Jess, Rita,
Amanda and Jo – will preview the next book they’ll be reading. Between their monthly meetings, the SDN staff will review a different book.
Join the club and follow along. We welcome any comments and opinions (approximately 100 words) about the books we’re reviewing. The next book is “The Devil Wears Prada” by Lauren Weisberger.
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