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Anthem of a Reluctant Prophet


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Adult/High School-"Stan-.Tomorrow morning. Eight thirty-seven" is teen protagonist Luke Hunter's stoned premonition of someone's death. He jokingly shares it with his gang of "basement dwellers" gathered for "bad dope, bad company and even worse music" in bland, middle-class suburban Stokum. But when Stan dies the next day, exactly as predicted, life veers wildly off track for Luke, his friends, his family, and the town's citizens as they attempt to make sense of it all. Proulx's thoroughly engrossing first novel is a darkly comic, yet naturalistic portrayal of the interior and external world of contemporary teens. Her kids are refreshingly authentic. They are not exaggerated, self-absorbed cartoons spewing vacuous, ironic sound bites. Rather, they are warmly human, rich, and developed individuals. Luke is tagged the "prophet of death" by an overzealous self-serving news anchor. But he is no prophet, nor does he want to be. His fleeting clairvoyance predicts a few more deaths, but then fades away as quickly as it manifested. He attempts to alter the outcomes of these other premonitions, but he is powerless to do so. Neither well-intentioned nor less-benign adults, including a doctor and a preacher, can provide Luke with the answers he is seeking. Beautiful, unpretentious Faith, Stan's girlfriend, acts as Luke's anchor and forgiver. He eventually learns he can only work to heal himself, and be true to his friends and those who love him. This ultimately redemptive story celebrates adolescence with compassionate understanding. A glorious wow of an ending has Luke discovering his own salvation, standing with Faith in the front row of a White Stripes concert, rejoicing simply in their youth.-Jodi Mitchell, Berkeley Public Library, CA Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.

A teenager's gift of premonition becomes a curse in Proulx's confident debut. It's the fall of 2002 in Stokum, Mich., a "rank little pinprick of a town," where a night of pot smoking brings about Luke Hunter's prediction that his friend Stan will be crushed by a red van with out-of-state license plates. When the random prophecy comes true, a "media madhouse" infiltrates Luke's quiet life while his parents remain confused and frustrated. Dubbed the "Prophet of Death," Luke experiences more "death flashes" that become reality. Terrified by his new ability, Luke gets a prescription for a powerful sedative, which stops the visions for a while, but soon they-and his general disillusionment with life-return. As Luke tries to make peace with his psychic abilities, he crushes out on a girl at school and is the subject of an attempted religious intervention. Though a couple of plot points are left unexplained or unresolved, Proulx channels the ennui, insecurity and inner yearnings of a teenage boy to produce a fast-moving tale of struggling youth that has a great potential for YA crossover. (Apr.) Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.

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