In the Path of Falling Objects
by Smith, Andrew
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School Library Journal Gr 9 Up-Falling Objects is a mystical, lyrical, sometimes violent, and ultimately hopeful story of what it means to be a brother. The novel begins with a look back at a murder and quickly moves forward to northern New Mexico and brothers Jonah, 16, and Simon, 14, a dead horse at their feet, a gun in Jonah's backpack, parents nowhere to be found. From the first squashed scorpion, readers feel the heat and hopelessness of the boys' situation. Jonah's most precious possessions are letters from their older brother, who is slowly succumbing to despair in Vietnam. The boys hitch a ride with Mitch, an unstable killer; Lilly, who likes to make Mitch jealous; and a literal tin man who rides in the backseat. Parts of the book are spare and poetic; parts are gritty and grim. Several characters are dead by the last chapter. Despite it all, there is a feeling of closure, as it seems that the brothers could make a new start with a young man they meet, Dalton, and his nontraditional family. For teens looking for something to sink their teeth into, Smith offers a challenging read. Powerful imagery and symbolism are threaded throughout the narrative along with Bible references, a map that Jonah is drawing, a meteorite that Simon takes along as a talisman, and references to gravity and its relentless pull. The intensity will suit serious readers who don't mind a little blood and gore.-Maggie Knapp, Trinity Valley School, Fort Worth, TX (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Book list Jonah and his younger brother, Simon, have it pretty tough, and it's about to get tougher. Their junkie dad's in prison, their mom's abandoned them, and their older brother is off fighting in Vietnam. The brothers hit the road and hitch a ride with Mitch, a sociopath, and his pregnant companion, Lilly. After an intense opening murder scene, the book only grows bloodier during the journey through the southwestern desert. The story unfolds from multiple viewpoints, including missives from the brother in Vietnam that become increasingly more unhinged. This counterpoint effectively mirrors the brothers' increasingly violent and desperate plight, unable to either stop or get away from the lunatic at the wheel. Like all great psychopathic characters, Mitch steals the show for much of the story, but Smith also deftly layers in sibling dynamics that are both supportive and combative. A relentless, bleak thriller that nails the claustrophobic sense of being totally out of control, and moving fast.--Chipman, Ian Copyright 2009 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright American Library Association. Used with permission.

Publishers Weekly Smith's Vietnam-era road trip tells the tense, violent and cathartic story of teenage brothers Jonah and Simon, 16 and 14, on the run after their mother abandons them in their New Mexico home. Their older brother, Matt, plans to desert the army, and the brothers all attempt to meet in Arizona. En route, the boys are given a lift by Mitch and Lilly, on the run from Texas. Lilly is pregnant, and Mitch, whose friendly appearance masks a serious psychosis, is taking her somewhere to have an abortion. By the time Jonah becomes aware of the danger Mitch poses, the boys are already trapped in the car with him, and Jonah's developing relationship with Lilly only fuels Mitch's anger. Smith (Ghost Medicine) paints a picture of a bleak time, with Matt's letters from Vietnam highlighting the depressing and frightening lives soldiers led even as the folks back home faced equally uncertain futures. There are moments of bleak, nasty violence, but they rarely appear gratuitous, instead underlining the despair Jonah and Simon feel, and offering something they must transcend. Ages 13-up. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved