By Ted Staunton
Red Deer Press, Paperback, 9780889954410, 263pp.
Publication Date: May 8, 2010
Sam Foster is the hero of this YA comic novel by Ted Staunton. He's six foot four, and over his high school years has adopted the Slouch - an attempt to draw less attention to himself in crucial situations. In school, for example, or when walking with friends who are much shorter. Sam's got talent - he's the drummer in a rock band named ADHD, and he's also a sometime assistant to Hope Springs' registered eccentric/blowhard J. Earl Good enough. What Sam has to figure out is how to show sufficient responsibility to finally reach the heights of "maturity" his parents hold out as a measure. Dealing with his anarchistic girlfriend Martha is one challenge - she loves breaking all the rules. In addition there are the normal hazards of drinking too much before the school dance, getting his drivers' permit, deserving the trust of his parents when they leave him and his friend Darryl alone for the weekend, completing all the volunteer hours he needs to acquire before graduation - and stick handling his way by the oppressive Mr. Tegwar, surely one of the least appealing of teachers at the high school. Sam's worst fear is letting people down - which of course means letting himself down as well. By the end of this comic novel, Sam has figured out a number of things - among them that he and his girl friend are not suited to each other, and that adults are not always as mature as they appear to be. He has absorbed some of the rules for achieving maturity, though he has not yet reached that pinnacle.
Sam, age 15, struggles to be “mature” in this engaging comedy. He lives in a small Canadian town where everyone knows everyone else, but Sam will soon learn that even small-town scrutiny can overlook little quirks. Everything goes wrong with Sam’s plans, starting when he’s assigned to “mother” a mechanical baby doll that cries at the drop of a hat and must find a way to play drums for the most important gig his band ever has booked while also trying to comfort the doll. No matter how mature he tries to be, Sam keeps getting into more and more trouble. Filled with such colorful secondary characters as the middle-aged couple who open a sex shop, Sam’s dangerously rebellious girlfriend, Martha, and the famous writer who keeps Sam at his beck and call, the story gallops along with disaster after disaster for the hapless Sam, who tries so hard to do his best. While maturity may remain elusive for Sam, readers won’t have any trouble finding laughs in this sly, wining tale. Chuckles galore. (Fiction. 14 & up) Kirkus
Sam Foster, a normal teenager and drummer in the band ADHD, has maturity as his latest goal. Achieving this goal will put him well on the way to a parent-free weekend over spring break and getting his learner’s permit. But as with most teenagers, circumstances have a way of preventing even the most enthusiastic teen from success. In school, Sam chooses Family Studies to achieve an easy pass, and then finds himself babysitting a Kinder 4000 Infant Simulator baby doll for his must-pass assignment. The baby is to be cared for day and night, no matter what. This leads to complications when Sam’s band ADHD has to play in a competition at Club Rockit. When Sam fails his task, he has to suffer the consequences, being the percussionist for the play The Amazings and working at the local library. Sam has a way of attracting problems, and with his anarchistic, rule-breaking girlfriend, Martha, at his side, Sam slips further away from an adult-free, junk-food eating, DVD-watching weekend with his friend Darryl. Staunton has written a fast-paced coming-of-age novel that flows well. Teens will easily identify with the main characters and the hilarious antics that take place as he achieves maturity. There is mention of the effects of drinking alcohol and references to drug taking, but it is within the context of the story. Although it is part of the Hope Springs series, this novel could be read as a stand-alone book. —Amanda McFadden. V