Face to face: a novel /

Author Bauer, Marion Dane.
Language English
New York: Clarion Books, 1991


Picked on at school by bullies, thirteen-year-old Michael confronts his fears during a trip to Colorado to see his father, who works as a whitewater rafting guide and whom Michael has not seen in eight years.

Subjects :

  • Fiction
  • Rafting (Sports)
  • Fathers and sons
  • Fear

Back to Top

Author Illustrator(s) :

Back to Top

Best Books :

  • Kirkus Book Review Stars, 1991
  • Middle And Junior High School Library Catalog, Eighth Edition, 2000 H.W. Wilson

Back to Top

State & Provincial Reading List :

  • California Young Reader Medal, 1994; Nominee California
  • Kentucky Bluegrass Award, 1993; Nominee Kentucky

Back to Top

Reviews :

Hazel Rochman (Booklist, Sept. 15, 1991 (Vol. 88, No. 2))
Troubled father and son hunt together, fight the rapids, and then are bonded forever and never scared of anybody or anything again . . . well, not really. Bauer's disturbing novel sets up and subverts all those old, macho coming-of-age myths of courage and power. Bullied at school, sullen with his mother and taciturn stepfather on their Minnesota dairy farm, 13-year-old Michael dreams of using a gun and of reunion with the father he hasn't heard from in eight years. He's thrilled when he does get to spend the summer with his dad white-water rafting in Colorado. But the wild adventures in the roaring river end in failure and disappointment for both of them. They can't talk about it, and they part with a stiff handshake, "like two men. Like two frightened men." Michael returns home suicidal. The women in the story are too perfect compared with the troubled males, and there's some awkward psychologizing about Michael's repressed childhood trauma, but the action and physical danger will grab teens as will the drama of father and son and the candor about the seductive appeal of guns. Michael's stepfather, Dave, is drawn with restraint. He's an honest, caring person, who's learned that it sometimes takes more courage to face the cows in the morning than to fight in Vietnam, but he can't reach out to the boy who needs his love. In a stark climax, Michael turns away from suicide, and Dave embraces him. We feel Michael's ache for a "father who will neither test him nor ignore him." Category: Older Readers. 1991, Clarion Books, $13.95. Gr. 5-9.
(PUBLISHER: Clarion Books (New York:), PUBLISHED: c1991.)

Kirkus (Kirkus Reviews, 1991)
In another gripping novel about a boy forced to confront his values, the author of On My Honor (Newbery Honor, 1987) examines the role of guns in the imagination of a troubled youth. Michael has not seen his father, Bert, since Bert left the family farm eight years ago. Though Mom's new husband--pleasant but taciturn Dave--has adopted him, Michael has always resented Dave and treasured his memories of Bert, especially of their hunting together. Reluctantly, Dave and Mom give Michael a gun for his 13th birthday--a gun he promptly misuses, and loses, by letting his little sister shoot it. At the same time, Bert invites Michael to visit: he's now a white-water rafting guide in Colorado. Michael sets out full of hopes for a man-to-man relationship, but Bert doesn't match his fantasies: he's not tall; his trailer is cramped and uncomfortable; he's a rolling stone who still doesn't make his son the center of his world. Ironically, it's his macho qualities that Michael finds hardest to bear--especially during a terrifying raft trip. In the end, Michael goes home and finally turns to Dave--but not before he finds his confiscated gun and experiences the kind of impotent, disillusioned rage that can make a person turn a gun against others, or against himself. Bauer subtly modulates Michael's changing feelings--as he discovers who Bert really is, recollects the bitter truth about that long-ago deer hunt, and is finally able to integrate what he has learned so that he can throw down the gun--for a thoughtful, richly provocative story. 1991, Clarion/Houghton Mifflin, $13.95. Starred Review. © 1991 Kirkus Reviews/VNU eMedia, Inc. All rights reserved.
(PUBLISHER: Clarion Books (New York:), PUBLISHED: c1991.)

Publishers Weekly (Publishers Weekly)
In this dramatic coming-of-age novel, 13-year-old Michael is reunited with his father, who walked out eight years before. The boy has clung loyally to his memories ever since, and wants to find that his father can acknowledge him for himself. But Dad lacks the self-acceptance necessary to do even that. After drifting from place to place, Dad now leads white-water rafting trips; he decides to toughen up his son and brutally dumps him from a raft. Michael returns to his family's Minnesota dairy farm, realizing he requires his quiet but reliable stepfather more than he does his exciting, wandering dad. Michael's anger, neediness and determination come out strongly in his intense, sometimes painful interactions with his family. Though the ending is somewhat rushed, the dynamic rafting scenes and Michael's struggles make for engrossing reading. Ages 10-14. (Sept.)
(PUBLISHER: Clarion Books (New York:), PUBLISHED: c1991.)

Back to Top

Publication Details:

  Publisher ISBN Notes
New York: Clarion Books, 1991

Media Type: Language Material
176 p. ;
PZ7.B3262 ([Fic])

Back to Top