THE OTHER NORMALS
The anguish, desire, and (best of all) awkwardness of adolescence are beautifully captured in Vizzini’s fantastical coming-of-age story. A wonderfully nerdy book, it tenderly examines our secret thirst for danger, heroics and the chance to prove that we all play an extraordinary role in our own lives.
For late-blooming, role-playing gamer Perry Eckert, Creatures and Caverns is an escape from the horrors of puberty. He’d rather not notice that his brother is drinking again, or that his interactions with girls are nil. But his parents decide he needs to grow up and be a man, and soon he’s on his way to a summer in the woods — hiking, canoeing and living in a yurt. When the accidental sighting of a strange creature leads him deep into the woods, he discovers an alternate universe so similar to Creatures and Caverns it takes his breath away. There, he begins a harrowing adventure. Can plain old Perry be brave enough to save his world? (BALZER+BRAY, Oct., 400 pp., $17.99, ISBN: 9780062079909, HC, 13 & Up)