August 30 , 2007

Pete Hautman

Speaking the Truth to Teens


Pete Hautman is an author who likes to tackle big ideas—from addiction and psychosis to the nature of belief and what the world is coming to—in his fiction for teen readers. In novels like Mr. Was, Sweetblood, Invisible, Rash, and the National Book Award winner, Godless, Hautman leavens his exploration of these big ideas with humor while showing that he understands how overwhelming such matters can be. As Hautman himself says, “It’s complicated.”

In Pete Hautman: Speaking the Truth to Teens, Joel Shoemaker looks at the life and work of an author whose young adult fiction represent a wider breadth of subject matter and interests than is typically found in any single author’s young adult novels. Chapters in this book explicate individual novels such as Godless and Eden West which focus on religious issues and teens, while time-travel conundrums are explored in Mr. Was and the Klaatu Diskos trilogy, and three books look at teens who play poker for very high stakes. Other works discussed in this study are examples of realistic contemporary fiction: How to Steal a Car, Blank Confession, and two books that take very different approaches to the matter of teens and falling in love, The Big Crunch and What Boys Really Want.

Shoemaker’s interviews with the author and several family members provide opportunities for unique insights into Hautman’s work, drawing clear connections between his life and his writings. Pete Hautman: Speaking the Truth to Teens will be of interest to librarians, scholars, and the author’s many fans.
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