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American Youth

3.25  ·  Rating Details  ·  307 Ratings  ·  49 Reviews
American Youth is a controlled, essential, and powerful tale of a teenager in southern New England who is confronted by a terrible moral dilemma following a firearms accident in his home. This tragedy earns him the admiration of a sinister gang of boys at his school and a girl associated with them. Set in a town riven by social and ideological tensions–an old rural culture ...more
Paperback, 256 pages
Published January 8th 2008 by Random House (first published April 10th 2007)
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(showing 1-30 of 892)
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Ute
Nov 02, 2011 Ute rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I didn't like this book. It would be a good book if the protagonist didn't have a vile character. Or it would be a good book if it was about a person with vile character. But I have the feeling the author didn't notice the boy in his book has a vile character. (which points to the author's character but I won't go there).
In the very beginning of the story the boy is throwing rocks at a horse because he enjoys seeing the way pain makes the horse move.
That is not a normal boy to me. If the story
...more
Kim
Dec 16, 2015 Kim rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
When teenager Theo entertains two friends at home he shows them his rifle. But a momentary lapse in concentration by Theo leads to a tragedy the consequences of which cause Theo's life to spiral out of control. Thought this was a really good read - interesting commentary on youth culture and the gun debate in America - 8.5/10.
Lauran Lansdon
Apr 03, 2016 Lauran Lansdon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This story revolves an accidental death, in the home, by kids playing with guns. The protaganist was the kid who owned and loaded the gun, but not the one who fired it nor was he even in the room at the time the gun was fired. I think this speaks to the far reaching affects of accidents of this type. The book was suspenseful - I had to read it all the way through because I needed to know if 'the boy', as the protaganist is often referred, would do the right thing regarding is role in the acciden ...more
Sarah
Sep 30, 2009 Sarah rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This adult novel easily could have been published as a young adult novel. It's gripping and an easy read. The only thing that bugged me was that the narrator referred to the main character as "the boy" and he lived with "the mother" and "the father." I know there probably is a philosophical reason for the author to do this, but I just found it annoying. I also thought the detailed description of field dressing a deer was thrown in the book to gross city people out. [return]His name is Theodore. ...more
Sam
Jan 31, 2010 Sam rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Set in a small, rural New England town, American Youth is a coming of age story which describes the consequences of an accidental shooting.
The economy is in recession and Ted LeClare's father, a life insurance salesman, has been forced to move south to Pennsylvania to get work. Ted and his mother have stayed in the family home, which is for sale.
On a hot summer afternoon, the Dennison brothers, Bobby and Kevin, visit Ted's house. Ted, feeling socially inadequate, is eventually persuaded to show
...more
Marisa
This was way better than I thought it would be.

Plot can be summarized in one sentence(with a few related points) -- 14 year old Teddy's life spirals out of control when a friend Kevin accidentally shoots and kills his brother in Teddy's dining room. Oh, and the gun belonged to Teddy's parents. And Teddy loaded it. And although Teddy grew up hunting and knew all about gun safety, neither of the other boys had ever touched a gun before.

I thought this was going to be really cliched, but it wasn't
...more
Anne
Jul 19, 2008 Anne rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
American Youth begins with a tragic incident involving adolescents and a firearm. As the police investigate a young man named Ted, Ted's mother urges him to keep his mouth shut and protect himself. At the same time, Ted's confusion and guilt over the incident lead him to increasingly self-destructive behavior. He enters high school and befriends the American Youth - a vigilante group against alcohol, drugs, and the type of liberal thought that they believe is destroying America. Ted struggles to ...more
Kelsey
Jan 19, 2008 Kelsey rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed this debut novel from Phil LaMarche.

One of the things I really liked about this novel was that it didn't hit you over the head with a gun position pro or con - the scenes where Ted has just gone hunting with his uncle and where they're cleaning and preparing the dear were great. I know nothing about hunting or guns but I loved reading the perspective of this working class new england family and their real and true history with guns. The locals (Ted's family included) clashed won
...more
Bookmarks Magazine

"There exists, of course, no more defining American image than death by bullet," notes the Los Angeles Times. In his debut novel, Phil LaMarche ties this all-too-common image to timeless themes (coming of age, class struggle) as well as more contemporary ones (violence in children, gun control, fascism). What results is a gripping narrative that says as much about the incongruities of 21st-century America as it does about one boy thrown prematurely into the maelstrom of adult life. Despite a few

...more
Brian Ayres
Jun 09, 2007 Brian Ayres rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a very well-executed book on all levels, from style to characters to plot to symbolism. Teddy, a ninth grader, is asked to betray the truth by his mother in an accidental shooting at his home. The story characterizes the struggle of times that changes and people who refuse to change with the times. LaMarche creates a modern-day values debate that shows -- SURPRISE -- moral decisions are not black and white issues like conservatives tend to explain it. In the shooting death of a friend, T ...more
Nina
Feb 09, 2016 Nina rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Kind of reminded me of a Lovely Bones for boys in writing style (not subject matter). The prose is spare. It was good, but I kept feeling like something was missing.
Filippo Ulivieri
Non un guizzo di stile, non un colpo di scena, non un personaggio memorabile. Si arriva in fondo con la sensazione di aver perso tempo.
Sinistmer
2.5/5

Compelling, accessible writing made this book go quickly, but I ultimately found the story lacking.
Brian Tucker
Dec 02, 2014 Brian Tucker rated it liked it
The narrator's input on gun control is neutral, and it makes the reading a little better. 3/5.
Susan
Sep 04, 2007 Susan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: American youth (to put it simply), those interested in community, family, and consequences
Shelves: 2007read
The most impressive thing about this novel for me is the way LaMarche plays with the narration, always calling Ted "the boy" and never anything else. He clearly has a name as he's called in dialogue with the other characters, but we see him only as "the boy," making him remain somewhat faceless and therefore like he could be any one of us -- at the same time, a certain distance between the two is created.

There are also some passages throughout that are beautiful both in their simplicity and in
...more
Chantel
Oct 31, 2014 Chantel rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
mmm i thought the writer certainly had some great writing skills and plots but i felt the ending was left extremely opened ended...
Mac
Jul 14, 2011 Mac rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A solid, gripping story that does what realistic fiction does - tells a specific story to illuminate larger themes. And even as it does the literary dance, the language is simple and the story is enticing enough to keep everything moving forward very rapidly. The simplicity may take over at times - it's not the most complex novel I've ever read - and I could smell the MFA workshop process all over much of the book, but the story was engaging enough to keep me with it throughout.
Courtney Lindwall
Jul 17, 2009 Courtney Lindwall rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: no one
Shelves: 2008
Even after finishing it, I can't decide if the author was making a point about the degenerate lifestyle of Skin-Headed Republicans, or rather about the pot-smoking, free-spirited 'Federalists.' Or maybe just a glimpse into the life of American Troubled Youth, both sides of the moderate line. Either way, after it was over, I was still waiting for it to begin and will, in a matter of hours, forget the entire occurrence of sitting down to read Lamarche's work entirely.
Kara
May 21, 2016 Kara rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I liked this, it had like a palpable vibe to it, it sorted of hummed. The female characters were, of course, underdeveloped, but a good dark coming of age story.
Ethan
May 25, 2007 Ethan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2007
Just before he starts his freshman year of high school, Ted gets into a heap of trouble when one friend shoots another with a hunting rifle Ted loaded. With the rumors circulating, he joins a Libertarian, almost racist clique and tries to get on with life. The book borders on cliche at a few points, but it always comes back from the brink, making it believable and gut-wrenchingly sad at points.
Mike Polizzi
Feb 07, 2010 Mike Polizzi rated it liked it
Well paced and carefully detailed, American Youth gives a clear portrait of troubled adolescence while examining the collision of cultures within the shifting landscape of small town America. The ending feels a little rushed, but the books manages to build bigger echoes past the politics on the page to much older questions about violence, culpability and manhood.
Jen
Jul 23, 2011 Jen rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: america
What a good first novel. The story is about a typical American boy from a small town in regional America. After an accidental shooting, which leaves another teenager dead, Teddy has to come to terms with his own conscience and decide whether to tell the truth about his part in the shooting. The whole American gun culture is so alien to me, but a fascinating novel.
Kurt Lynn
Feb 22, 2008 Kurt Lynn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Maybe not quite a 4 but definitely an interesting book. The story line was quite interesting, suspenseful but a little too neatly wrapped up at the end.

Part of what was interesting about this book was that the quasi-omniscient point of view that kept referring the to the main character as "the boy..." (instead of him, or he, or whatever.)
Erin
Mar 31, 2013 Erin rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This book could best be described as a left-winger's wet dream. It's filled with evil gangbanging conservative highschoolers who dress in black suspenders and nerd gear, a shooting accident involving teens and a bunch of other nonsense caricatures. I can see why my local library was giving this book away...it looks mint, because no one read it.
Josh
Nov 11, 2009 Josh rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
American Youth is a powerful, well-written novel about a naive teenage boy who struggles to overcome a moral dilemma that transforms his life forever. I would not add this novel to my middle school classroom library, as I feel some of the content is more suitable for mature high school teenagers.
Janet
Aug 26, 2007 Janet rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
OK book about what happens to a teenage boy after a gun accident in his home kills a friend. The author calls this youth "the boy" throughout the book, which I supposed to meant to imply that he could be anyone. Instead, it actually distances the reader from him, and makes it harder to relate to him.
Jayne
Jul 27, 2011 Jayne added it
Coming of age story about a young american male. An interesting look at a small community and how they are affected by the lack of development, and failing economy.

Includes themes of guns, their use, and consequences. As well as how teens are affected and the decisions they make.
Shelby Savage
Oct 17, 2012 Shelby Savage rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I am not one to pick up a teen novel very often, although I am a teenager.
This novel however was worth it! It was not life changing or epiphany-causing by any means, but it was fast paced and a fun read. Intense in some parts...and very descriptive. I would definitely recommend it.
Adam
Jul 29, 2011 Adam rated it it was amazing
There's nothing as disturbing to me as the level of cruelty that kids can inflict on one another. This book looks to describe some of that pathos and does so brilliantly. It stays with you for awhile and makes you think about what violence kids are capable of and why. Amazing.
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