The Book Reviews – Website

February 19, 2008

The Hemingway Tradition

Filed under: T — thebookreviews @ 7:42 pm
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The Hemingway Tradition

Author: Kristin Butcher

Page Length: 92

Reading Level: 4.2


PLOT SUMMARY: As the story opens, Shaw Sebring and his mom are moving to Winnipeg, Canada.  They are trying to recover from the shock and tragedy of the suicidal death of Dyan Sebring, Shaw’s dad and respected author. 


Shaw actually was the person to find his dad, who ended his life by putting a bullet to his head. Sixteen year old Shaw and his mother were unable to cope with the suicidal note, the death, and memories left in the house; so, his mom got a transfer and the move to Winnipeg was made.


Shaw begins school as normally as possible.  He makes a new best friend, Jai, from East India.  Jai invites Shaw to tryout for the volleyball team and they both make the team.  Shaw also meets Tess, a girl in his English class.  Tess is on the newspaper staff and she and Shaw appear to have “something special” between them.


As normal of life as Shaw tries to lead, he is not functioning normally.  He is haunted not only by the visual memory of his dad but also by the note his dad left.  In his note, Dylan Sebring, the world known author, said that he had lived a life full of lies.  He revealed he was gay, and could not longer live the life any longer.


The note left Shaw questioning if what he had considered a happy well-adjusted childhood had also been a lie.  As much as he had wanted to be like his dad when he was alive, he now wants to be as different from him as possible in his death.  As a result, his grades are falling and his mom is concerned.


Through the support of his mom, encouraging him to read his dad’s journal, Shaw comes to grip with his dad’s sexuality and the prejudices his dad felt.  He also is aware of racial prejudices in his school.


REVIEW: I liked this book because Ms. Butcher is able to relate the feelings and emotions that Shaw experiences quite realistically.  Shaw’s thoughts are those of any teen who might experience a death in the family, a move to a new  city—questioning what is real, what is unreal, what is good, what is bad.


The book is short but well written.  It covers several social issues.  I think any high school student would enjoy it. 


TOUCHY AREAS: Teachers should be aware of the referral to the bi-sexual preference subject matter.




REVIEWED BY: Shirley Wagner



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