Author: William F.Powers JR.
Genre: Humorous Fiction
Age-Group: Young Adult
Publisher: iUniverse .com
12-1/2 is a precarious age. Not kid, not adult and not even a teen yet, the child faces numerous befuddling situations. You still are not officially grown up but the hormones are starting to course through your body and tweaking it just a little here and there.
The book depicts three days in the life of such a seemingly precocious boy Chris JR. aged a bittersweet 12-1/2 , that he is Catholic is significant, at least to Chris. He is going to be confirmed after three days and is totally confused about the unreasonable customs, practices and beliefs. This is in addition to his growing up troubles; being overweight, uncomfortable with the girls, still trying to prove himself and fit in with the boys.
An alcoholic father and a frustrated mother do not provide any guidance. The teachers are also not forthcoming as he goes to a catholic school with a tradition of strict discipline and corporal punishment. The irony is that the young boy does not realise that it is all in the course of life and there is nobody he can turn to for either advice or guidance. He constantly struggles to devise a plan for his future and avoid the overriding guilt for enjoying the simple pleasures of growing up, in the end finding a suitable personal method to retain his own identity and line of thought though still uncertain. It is a universal story of early adolescence, where kids are trying to find their own identity and facing many questions which need to be answered.
A book which delves into the adolescent mind with great insight, it is a hilarious voyage. It has peeked inside the minds of little children who simply want to live and learn. Of particular note is the religious rigmarole that Chris undergoes without understanding most of it and his constant endeavour to come to terms with the contradictions and hypocrisies that it entails. The book is crisply written. The humorous tone is kept intact till the end. The characterisation is brilliant, especially Chris, his parents and the nuns.
The title needs a special mention. It is symbolic of the feeling of having been conspired against, which the children develop when they realise that some customs were propounded only so that the parents could stay ahead of them in the knowledge of things that they were made to believe such things so that they would behave in accordance with the social or religious norms. A very apt title indeed as Chris discovers that being present for a special friend is much more significant than following religious dogmas.
This one should make happy reading for kids as well as parents irrespective of their religion or nationalities. It might help parents to understand the children better. For the children it might not give any definite answers but they will certainly understand that they are on the right track even if they are confused about things around them.