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by Will Weaver
HarperTempest, 2003
Review by Su Terry on May 15th 2003


Claws by Will Weaver is a well-written novel about the unraveling of a high school junior's charmed life after he discovers that his father is having an affair. A novel filled with many unpredictable twists and turns on its way to detailing the disintegration of an otherwise perfect life.

Clawsis set in contemporary Duluth, Minnesota. As the novel opens, sixteen year old Jed Berg ponders, "Weird though of the Day: "Life could never get better."(p.5) Jed does not know how prophetic his words are. He is smart, athletic, dating a good-looking senior, and has occasional permission to drive his father's 1969 Camaro.  His father is a successful architect and his mother is a partner in a major law firm. Everything is perfect until he responds to a note from "a friend" left on his car to meet his girlfriend at a local restaurant. At the restaurant, however, Jed does not meet up with his girlfriend but encounters Gertrude, a "weird girl" with electric pink hair in "goth" clothes. She demands that he stop his father's affair with her mother...or else.  Jed wants to write the girl off as a bad joke until she emails him a photograph that convinces him otherwise. As he looks deeper into her claims, he begins to discover more about his father's life than he really wants to know. As his parent's seemingly perfect marriage fall apart, so does his perfect life at school. To reveal too much about the characters and progress of events in this novel would be to lessen the impact of its continual series of shock waves that build to a major ground-shattering conclusion. Wow!

Few of the characters in this book are who and what they appear to be at the outset. At the beginning of this book, everyone appears to be living in a 1950's picture perfect sitcom. Even Jed has bought into the all-American myth of his perfect family. Unfortunately, when the masks are peeled away and the secrets revealed, the story begins to be more like a 1990's perverse soap opera. Jed degenerates, understandably, from "the boy most likely to succeed" to "the boy least likely to graduate." As one character quips, "Preppies in a downward spiral are fun to watch."(p.115)

Will Weaver is a professor of English and Creative Writing at Bemidji State University (Minn.) Weaver has a B.A. from the University of Minnesota and M.A. in creative writing from Stanford University. He is the author of two adult novels entitled, Reed Earth, White Earth (1986) and A Gravestone Made of Wheat (1989). He is also the author of a number of books for young adults including, the Billy Baggs series (Striking Out (1993), Farm Team (1995), and Hard Ball (1998)), Memory Boy (2001), and Claws (2003). All of the Baggs series are ALA Best Books for Young Adults. He is the winner of the McKnight and the Bush Foundations' prizes for fiction.

Claws by Will Weaveris a powerhouse of a novel. The plot twists cannot be outguessed and it ends with a heart stopping bang. Wow! This novel has movie written all over it! The book is recommended for grade 9+, but will definitely hold an adult's interest. I highly recommend this book!