Saturday, June 20, 2009

The Boxer and the Spy -- Robert B. Parker

I liked this book best of the three Robert B. Parker YA novels I've read. When his classmate is found dead, supposedly a suicide, Terry and his friends, including Abby, his one true love, don't believe the official story. Terry sets out to find the truth of the matter.

This is one of those books in which the reader knows who the killer is the first time he appears on the page, so the only real mystery is, why wasn't this Parker's "Young Spenser" novel? Change Terry's name to Spenser, and this book would have been perfect. There's the black mentor who teaches Terry about boxing and life, with all the expected lines about what it means to be a man. There's the perfect girlfriend (she's pretty, she's smart, she's "the one") with whom Terry discusses everything. The book's told in the third person, but the dialog and the descriptions are pure Parker.

Here's another interesting thing. The book's about 200 pages long, but it's about one-third the thickness of a Spenser novel. Maybe the books for adults are fattened up so grown-ups will think they're getting a bargain, while books for teens are slimmed down so as not to intimidate reluctant readers. If you like Parker, you'll probably enjoy this one.


Lake Mills Library said...

YA authors most often get grief over being realistic. Writing about teens dealing with sex and drugs gets some people in a tizzy.

I get annoyed when an author is unrealistic. Like having a teen couple in an unending, lifelong love affair. Yeah, there are plenty of long lasting relationships like that - including, if I remember correctly, our host - but don't most kids date several other people throughout their teens and twenties?

I end up falling into the same trap as other people who complain about YA books by thinking, "You're teaching the wrong thing."

Unknown said...

Other kids in the book are having sex, but not Terry and The One.

Unknown said...

Oh, and I forgot the adult sex. It's integral to the plot.

Gerard Saylor said...

I used the wrong log-in. Stupid internet.

Anonymous said...

Man, Bill, you're a glutton for punishment aren't you? I may read one of Parker's westerns, but otherwise the only thing I've read by him in the last 25 years was the Jackie Robinson book.