Narrative Downshift

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the new kidThe New Kid
by Eliot Schrefer
Simon & Schuster. 288 pages, $25.

 

THE NEW KID opens with Humphrey—named after the Casablanca actor, he explains—experiencing the dread of being “the new kid” in town and school. Fifteen years old and recently moved from California to Florida, he describes the first trip on the school bus, the trouble of making friends as a teenager, and the promise of being able to reinvent himself if the need arises. And for the first third of Eliot Schrefer’s second novel, Humphrey’s voice is engaging and observant. He contemplates the fact that he’s a skateboarder—a Californian—in a Florida surfer town, and he decides that it may be better to be the cool kid’s confidant rather than the cool kid himself. However, his friendship with (and crush on) hunky schoolmate Wade gets Humphrey into trouble. At a party Wade gives at his mom’s place, Humphrey is severely beaten by Wade’s mother’s husband and he ends up hospitalized with injuries.

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