With a wholly original voice, this stunning debut novel captures the overwhelming transformation from childhood to adolescence
An ordinary suburban Connecticut summer in the seventies is the stage for the miraculous world of Timmy. Twelve years old and full of boundless curiosity, Timmy lives an ever-expanding life of record collections (of which Elton John is king), neighborhood bullies (of whom Franky DiLorenzo rules), best friends, and the darker, more lasting secrets of family. Over the course of the summer, Timmy will kill a frog, lose his baseball-card collection, alienate a friend, and witness his parents’ separation. An intruder will hide in his treehouse; his mother will threaten divorce; his father will move out and back in. Timmy’s childhood will end and his adolescence begin.
One of the most remarkable child narrators to come along in recent years, Timmy is the achievement of a stunning new voice in American fiction. In the Cherry Tree is an addictively clever and appealing novel of our universal coming of age.
Rather plodding but appealingly homely, this first novel has the feel of an old family album. In a series of grainy snapshots, Pope chronicles the coming of age of 12-year-old Timmy during the summer of 1974 in suburban Connecticut. Timmy's father ("The Dad") is a boozing, gambling, happy-go-lucky Italian-American builder; his mother ("The Mom") is a no-nonsense Nova Scotia WASP. Timmy spends his time hanging out with his cronies, climbing cherry trees, listening to Elton John, going to movies, masturbating, discovering girls, teasing his older brother and sister and observing the neighborhood's idiosyncrasies. Egged on by his sadistic best pal, Stev (the friends drop the "e" at the end of names), Timmy torments feckless Tony, another neighborhood kid, but draws the line at killing frogs, another of Stev's favorite pastimes. As his parents' marriage slowly disintegrates-mainly because the Mom incessantly nags the Dad about his habit of playing golf and boozing during business hours-Timmy is jarred from his idyllic idling. His dog is killed, and when Stev comes home from camp he betrays Timmy by gambling away Timmy's baseball cards to gain favor with the neighborhood toughs. Pope never builds up much narrative steam with his episodic storytelling, and Timmy's voice is not particularly distinctive (despite his earnest cataloguing of boners and mammoth farts). There is a warmth and authenticity to Timmy's interactions with his parents and siblings, but even the heavy sprinkling of '70s cultural references fails to create much edge. 8-city author tour. (Oct.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.