06-03-2010 11:06 AM - edited 06-03-2010 11:06 AM
by James W. Fuerst
Fellow twelve year olds may identify with Eugene “Huge” Smalls, the protagonist of Huge, but adults (myself included) will not be able to resist his awkward, suburban pre-adolescence.
Eugene is small, smart, and feisty. He doesn’t have that many friends, like his academic rival, Stevie, who also has good luck with girls. That’s probably why Huge punches him in the face. But Huge’s stuffed frog doll, Thrash, pops up too frequently for him to qualify as “cool” (“But when I told him things, I started to hear all these new ideas inside my head, and they came to me in a voice different from my own—kind of slow and croaky, like that kid made in The Shining, only deeper—so I gave Thrash credit from them.”).
Big drama revolves around Huge’s grandmother, who raises him. She makes him grilled cheese and tomato soup. She gives him Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett novels. Suspended from school, Huge gets sucked into these books and becomes a detective himself. The novel follows him on his Jersey exploits as he tries to find out who defaced the sign of his grandmother’s nursing home.
Although this is a coming-of-age novel, Eugene is no Holden Caulfield. Huge is set in New Jersey, in the 1980s (where and when the author, James W. Fuerst, grew up). When Eugene says there’s “no way in hell” he’s about to do something, it’s not with confidence but small defiance. I think Huge would want this book to be a mystery novel but Huge is anything but mysterious—he is a loveable tell-all kind of kid. He’s easy to root for. I want him to find the culprit. Get the girl.
06-03-2010 11:16 AM
06-05-2010 01:07 AM