Category - Literature & FictionBestsellers rank - 6
Poor Herman--has he got troubles. The bullies in his class make his life hell after school; the red-haired girl he likes humiliates him; his gym teacher calls him a sissy for failing at rope climbing; and all his hair is falling out from a mysterious illness that neither the doctor nor his parents will fully explain to him. Herman is furious at his parents for not understanding him and broods about his hair loss. But when his sick grandfather dies, the boy realizes there are bigger losses than his in the world and begins growing up. This is a tragicomic coming-of-age story--one that straddles the adult/young adult market--told from the perspective of an imaginative, funny kid. On seeing a pigeon in the rain, Herman thinks, "Birds are lucky not to need raincoats and hats. . . . But if it rains for forty days, like in Africa, then maybe they have to use life vests and snorkels?" Though Herman's mother gets superficial treatment, and some of Herman's jokes wear thin with repetition, the author enjoys extending the boy's imagination. Christensen ( The Joker ) uses fresh imagery and lyrical prose, while the translator gives readers a solid feel for Norway's language and culture. Film rights to RKO Pictures. Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc. Herman goes to elementary school and lives with his nice, loving, working-class parents in Oslo, Norway. His life abruptly changes when he contracts the disease Alopecia areata, which causes him to go bald. The story, which evolves around spunky little Herman's attempts to cope with his trauma, holds the reader's interest more because of its unusual theme than for its psychological or artistic merits. The cultural milieu of Oslo in the 1960s seems too distant; many of the characters are more like caricatures than real people; and Herman himself doesn't quite come alive. Christensen's previous novel, The Joker ( LJ 4/15/91), was more successful, but although this book seems to be written mainly to support victims of Herman's disease, there may still be demand because of the recent release in this country of a film version. --Ulla Sweedler, Univ. of California at San Diego Lib.Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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