Sunday, February 25, 2007

Fighting Ruben Wolfe, by Markus Zusak

I liked both of Markus Zusak's other two books that I've read (The Book Thief, and I Am The Messenger) so I gave this one a go and finished it fast and enjoyed it quite a bit. The narrator, Cam Wolfe, reminded me of J.D. Salinger's Holden Caulfield. The whole set up, with these two tough teen boys and the more sensitive of the two telling the story of the other, was also very similar to Walter Dean Meyer's Autobiography of My Dead Brother. There is an amazing literary essay waiting to be written comparing these two fanatastic works of fiction: one about white, working-class Australian brothers, the other one about black teens in Harlem--both about masculinity, identity, fear, and love. One of the things I like best about Zusak's style is that he can put the corniest moral statements into the voices and plots of these very believable characters and stories and so the morals don't come off trite or dumb--in fact, they come off as powerful truisms. In Fighting Ruben Wolfe my two favorite examples of these kind of statements were: "A fighter can be a winner, but that doesn't make a winner a fighter," and, "Love the people, hate the situation." I'm sure these just seem like corny one-liners here, but they totally work in the book. Read it and find out.

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