By Will Weaver
(Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR), Hardcover, 9780374324858, 240pp.)
Publication Date: September 15, 2005
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The times they are a-changin' . . . The summer that Paul turns sixteen his mother pushes him to take a job in town instead of just working on the family farm. “You need to meet the public,” she says, which is saying a lot for a woman deeply committed to the tightly knit religious community to which they belong. And meet the public Paul does: He meets Kirk, the angry gas station manager; Harry, a reclusive and kindly gangster; and a family of hippies passing in a yellow peace van to San Francisco. He also meets beautiful Peggy, a high school sensation, and dark-haired Dale, her onthe-
side boyfriend who is headed to Vietnam. All of them come to the station – as well as girls on summer vacation, tanned and smelling of coconut oil, and ministers from Paul’s fundamentalist church, who are worried about his soul. As the summer progresses, Paul learns the secrets of his small Minnesota town and discovers that he’s ready to have a few secrets of his own.
With richly developed characters and a flair for arresting imagery, Will Weaver tells the story of the end of one boy’s innocence, unfolding at a time when the country as a whole is undergoing a difficult, deeply disturbing coming-of-age.
Author of Red Earth, White Earth and A Gravestone Made of Wheat, Will Weaver grew up in northern Minnesota on a dairy farm. The sometimes harsh and beautiful landscape of farm and small town life figures strongly in his writing. Sweet Land, an independent feature film adaptation of his story “Gravestone Made of Wheat”, and starring Ned Beatty, premiered in October of 2006.
Weaver is also known for his young adult fiction. His character Billy Baggs, a teenage farm boy baseball phenom, earned his way into the hearts of teen readers in the series Striking Out, Farm Team, and Hard Ball. Each novel has won numerous awards, including being named an ALA Best Book for Young Adults. Memory Boy, a post-apocalyptic novel based on environmental collapse, is used across the curriculum in many junior and senior high schools.
Claws, a novel set in northeastern Minnesota (Duluth and the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness) features outdoor survival with a strong family back story. Weaver’s Full Service won starred reviews (Kirkus Reviews and The Horn Book) for its focus on a young man struggling with matters of religious faith and doubt, all complicated by his first “real” summer job, at a gas station, where he “meets the public” in all its variety. Defect, a novel about a teenager born with a miraculous birth abnormality, highlights what one reviewer from The St. Paul Pioneer Press called “the humanity and decency that runs through all of Weaver’s work.”.
As an author, Mr. Weaver is particularly concerned with youth literacy and keeping kids reading. His new MOTOR series addresses a group of underserved young adult readers: kids who love cars. His new novel Saturday Night Dirt and its sequel, Super Stock Rookie, focus on dirt track stock car racing. The series starts with a close focus on a small town speedway and the cast of colorful characters who come there to race on Saturday nights. One of the characters, sixteen-year-old Trace Bonham, is a natural driver with dreams of racing professionally. The MOTOR series follows Trace’s on his path toward getting a “ride” (a sponsored race car) and competing at the highest level he can. While these auto racing novels will certainly appeal to boys, Weaver’s novels always contain a diverse cast of characters. Auto racing is one of the few sports that gives no gender advantage, and the MOTOR series also includes a positive and realistic portrayal of young women involved in racing.
Along with the MOTOR series of novels, Weaver has formed a stock car racing team with a teenaged driver. His black No. 16 Modified race car, co-sponsored by Farrar, Straus & Giroux publishers, is driven by Skyler Smith of Bemidji. Team Weaver races in the WISSOTA circuit in the upper Midwest. You can learn more about the Skyler, the race car and the MOTOR series at www.motornovels.com.
An avid outdoorsman, Will Weaver lives with his wife on the Mississippi River in northern Minnesota.
"Weaver's ability to recreate scenes from the past with accurate detail and the immediacy of a teen point of view ...[is] pitch perfect. Superb." -- Starred, Kirkus Reviews "While Paul learns and grows through the summer, the lessons never feel portentous, and Weaver evokes the rural setting with much exactness and no nostalgia." -- Starred, The Horn Book
"Weaver is a wonderful stylist and his beautifully chosen words put such a shine on his deeply felt story that most teens will be able to find their own faces reflected in its pages." -- Booklist
"Descriptively written narrative." -- VOYA "A cast of carefully shaped, diverse characters. The warm, affirming denouement suggests that life's highway is endlessly fascinating, frequently challenging, and bound to include some unanticipated bumps and detours." -- School Library Journal "The author crafts gem-like vignettes . . .Paul's quiet rebellion, fueled by a variety of profound encounters, expresses universal truths about growing pains, teen desires, and new insights he has gained." --Publishers Weekly "This book is just so down to earth and real." --A YALSA Teen YA Galley Reader