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The Pluto Project
Melissa Glenn Haber
Teen Fiction HABER

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From Publishers' Weekly:

Eighth-grader Alan Green's unresolved grief, two years after his mother's death, propels him to the brink of a breakdown in Haber's (The Heroic Adventure of Hercules Amsterdam) psychological study. Alan, determinedly cynical and the self-appointed leader of a collection of trusting friends, resurrects their old spy game as they eavesdrop on passersby to kill time, in a culvert beneath a road. (They imagine that the strangers speak in code, which the teens must decipher.) When the governor is assassinated, the murder eerily plays into their fantasy game, and a pair of suspicious men repeatedly rendezvous above the culvert. Through a third-person narrative from the teen's perspective, the author reveals how Alan becomes consumed with preventing additional murders and by his growing friendship with-and attraction to-Juliet, an African-American classmate with a passion for ballet. In his intense focus on winning over Juliet, he rejects his old friends, and when Juliet rebuffs his one tenuous overture, Alan starts to unravel. It's here-more than two-thirds into the novel-that the pace picks up, as Haber increasingly employs Alan's stream-of-consciousness thoughts to reveal his tilt toward madness. Ever more obsessed with codes, Alan simultaneously reaches out to and thwarts caring adults and friends, and finally-delusional-he resorts to deciphering an empty cigarette pack, and even gravel-strewn pavement. Readers willing to abandon stock thriller elements in favor of seeing Alan through his crisis won't regret it. Literally and psychically battered, the hero reemerges for a hopeful ending. Ages 10-up. (June) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

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main characters Alan Green
Male
Age: 14
Mother is deceased; father is distant; deals with his emotions with sarcasm;.



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