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The Martin Chronicles
John Fried
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The Martin Chronicles

3.84  ·  Rating details ·  202 ratings  ·  64 reviews
John Fried's THE MARTIN CHRONICLES, pitched as in the vein of Tom Perrotta's BAD HAIRCUT and the movie BOYHOOD, set in 1980s Manhattan, about a boy from age eleven to seventeen as he runs into a series of life-changing firsts: first kiss, first enemies, first love, first death, and ultimately, his first awareness that the world is not as simple or as safe a place as he onc ...more
Published by Grand Central (first published January 8th 2019)
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3.84  · 
Rating details
 ·  202 ratings  ·  64 reviews

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Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader
4 nostalgic stars to The Martin Chronicles! ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

A coming-of-age novel always gives me a sense of nostalgia, especially when set in a time period of which I’m familiar. The Martin Chronicles is set in 1980s New York.

Martin “Marty” Kelso is eleven years old, and life is changing quickly. He feels differently about girls, is confused by them, and he’s no longer sure how to act.

Times are different with his friends, too. Playing cops and robbers is losing its appeal, and one day, on their walk
Katie B
I like reading these type of coming of age novels because it's always a good reminder of both the good and bad parts of growing up. This book follows Martin Kelso living in 1980s New York City from the age of 11 thru his teenage years. This reads better more as a short story collection about the same character as from chapter to chapter there can be significant time jumps and so it kinda lacks a good flow.

Granted it's been over 25 years since I read Judy Blume's Then Again, Maybe I Won't, but wh
Jan 26, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4.5 stars

Sometimes I find comparison is the best or just easiest way to describe something. I would say imagine The Catcher in the Rye (minus some of the harshness) crossed with TV's The Wonder Years (trading the late 60's setting for the mid-80's) and you have John Fried's The Martin Chronicles. The title is deliberately meant to echo Ray Bradbury's The Martian Chronicles, and our young protagonist repeatedly attempts to start reading the classic sci-fi novel during a summer break without succe
Jan 08, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: first-reads
I was given this ARC last spring at Book Expo and decided to read it because I lived in the Upper West Side in the 1970s and '80s when this book takes place. Frankly, stories about an only child in private school are beyond my experience; the kids in my building went to public school. I guess the reader is supposed to like the narrator. I thought he was an immature jerk. He certainly was not a good friend, cousin or son. The book does not capture living on the UWS. Yes, they go in Central Park, ...more
Books on Stereo
Feb 05, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
A dull, outright bland coming of age narrative with a protagonist that is far to familiar.
Kasa Cotugno
Martin, a young New Yorker, coming of age in 90's era, lives on the upper West Side with his family. This novel takes the form of ten linked stories each illuminating a turning point in Martin's life as he navigates the familiar territories and minefields from seventh grade until he's on the threshold of college. His parents seem to have a comfortable life, but are involved in their son's progress without hovering. This was a nice, quiet book for a change with only the usual trials and challenge ...more
Jovana Đermanović
A coming-of-age novel about a young boy growing up in New York in the 1980s. The novel follows Martin Kelso from age 11 to 17 as he transitions into young adulthood. Each chapter focuses on a specific time or event, particularly highlighting many of Martin's "firsts" in life: first kiss, first job, first girlfriend, first fight with a friend, and first loss.

While I think most readers can connect with some aspects of Martin's struggles of growing up and trying to choose between right and wrong (M
Phyllis Krall
Feb 10, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A coming of age story about a boy growing up in Manhattan in the 1980’s. His life experiences from the time he is eleven until he is seventeen are described through his eyes. All of his memories will bring back the joys and sorrows of adolescence that we have all witnessed.

Martin Kelso shares his memories of life in a big city, describing new experiences, fears, first love, and losses. All the new emotions he has during adolescence will bring back our own memories of growing up that will never
Mar 30, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: giveaway-winner, own
A coming of age story told by Martin Kelso from 6th grade through high school growing up in the 1980’s Manhattan. A seemingly typical teenage time line, but life throws Martin a few curveballs along the way. We all make choices in life, some good and some just wrong. And then “suffer” the consequences of those choices. But Martin somehow comes out in the end not broken only a little bent. I did enjoy the story as it brought me back to my teenage years. A quick & easy read.
I won this from Goo
Nate Hawthorne
Jan 31, 2019 rated it really liked it
This book was between a 3 and a 4 for me. I will give it a 4 because of the final page.

The story is well told from the point of view of a kid from middle school up to high school. Very relatable for me as it was set during the time I was approximately that age also. Truly a coming of age book, dealing with both romantic and platonic relationships and how they change as we get older. There are a few twists in there, but it doesn't stray far from the norm and does it well.
Kathy Cunningham
Nov 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
John Fried’s THE MARTIN CHRONICLES is a poignant, evocative, and very identifiable coming-of-age novel. Narrator Martin Kelso, looking back at his life growing up on the West Side of Manhattan in the 1980’s, reveals the highs and lows most of us have navigated. The novel begins when Marty is in 6th grade, dealing with friends and girls and parents and his cousin Evie. It ends when Marty is a senior in high school, dealing with college applications, a girlfriend, and great personal loss. Through ...more
Nov 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: arc
This memoir-ish novel is a quintessential coming-of-age story about Marty, a boy (then young adult) growing up in Manhattan. The storylines could easily be taken from many 30- and 40-something Americans' own lives, which gave me a familiar but sometimes disconcerting feeling. The thing that struck me the most was the way in which Marty's inner dialog doesn't match his outward actions; he sometimes says and does cruel things despite feeling quite the opposite. In this way, I was reminded of Dar W ...more
Jun 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
I read a LOT. This book was a quick read for me - clocking in at just over 250 pages. I laughed out loud many times because of the subtle humor delivered by the main character's inner thoughts. What I loved about this book was the main character's almost picaresque inability to do or say the right thing written in a way that was so painfully, and delightfully human. I laughed because, as a HS teacher, I see all too often the ridiculous choices of even the most reasonable seeming teenager. These ...more
Feb 02, 2019 rated it liked it
I received a free copy of this book as part of a Goodreads giveaway.

The Martin Chronicles is the earnest telling of Martin Kelso as he lives and grows in New York City from the age of eleven to seventeen. The result is a quaint, at times touching and relatable coming of age story.
This novel is broken up into 10 chapters with a varying amount time passing in between each. I wish Fried had included a better indicator of Martin's age at each chapter. I think not including the years the story takes
May 17, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: general-fiction
A novel about an adolescent boy coming of ages during the 1980's in New York City. I am a sucker for coming-of-age stories. All the better that the time period here closely mirrors my own childhood. Thus, I was eager to peruse this novel. Sadly, I came away disappointed. The book is broken into ten chapters, each chronicling an episode from our protagonist, Martin's formative years. The problem, for me, was not with the writing itself but the fact that almost all of the chapters would be truckin ...more
Beth Mendelsohn
Aug 24, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: arc-s
This is a coming-of-age Young Adult/Adult novel that takes place in New York City in the 1980's. It follows Martin Kelso from sixth grade through high school and the milestones in-between. I thought it might be nostalgic for me, being that I grew up just outside NYC in the 80's. I found the timeline a bit difficult to follow, trying to figure out how old Martin is in a particular chapter. Also, I found myself not too invested in Martin's character, not really caring what happened to him. The hig ...more
Luis Cuesta
I received this novel as a Goodreads giveaway. John Fried’s novel, The Martin Chronicles, transports readers back in time to New York City in the 1980s, and back to the years between childhood and adulthood, seen through the eyes of Martin Kelso, an ordinary boy — from a safe and privileged family. The 10 chapters comprising Martin’s chronicle take him from sixth grade through his senior year of high school. And so Martin’s life unfolds in small events that leave him a little older and wiser.
Apr 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
My favorite genre, the coming of age story. The author writes in a simple but memorable way and there's something about his writing that just pulls you in and keeps you there. As Marty grows up, he definitely becomes less likable (teenagers will do that, ya know?), but no less human or fascinating. Each chapter is more of a short story/snippet/vignette that could stand on its own, which I usually don't enjoy, but worked very well for this particular character/setting. My favorite chapter (spoile ...more
Apr 05, 2019 rated it liked it
I'm not sure about this book...maybe it's for a different/younger audience. I'm not a boy, didn't grow up in New York City, didn't attend private school, and was raised in a different, less permissive, time period. For the first couple of chapters I considered discontinuing reading and returning the book to the library, but I decided to stick with it, primarily because of the continuing reference to The Martian Chronicles, one of my favorite books when I read it many years ago. By the end, I was ...more
Darcy Wood
I wanted it to be so much more, but this was just ok for me. I grew up during this time period, and I enjoy coming-of-age novels, but I just didn't love this. I didn't feel very connected to the main character, and I wasn't really invested in what happened to him. It felt like the author was trying very hard to be John Green, J.D. Salinger, or Stephen Chbosky (not saying that they're the same or comparable), but it fell flat, and the period details felt forced. I also didn't love the chunks wher ...more
Lisa Parker
Jan 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
Charming coming-of-age stories that peek at a boy's life reads more like a short stories collection than a novel per se. Loved the title and how it comes about in one of the stories. Based on the novel's description, I wondered if it was directed to YA but I suspect it would actually almost appeal more to everyone who has been through adolescence and all its emotional upheaval and life "firsts". So many of Martin's experiences had a "familiar" feel to them for me and I loved how honest and real ...more
Emily Pare
Jun 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Thank you GoodReads for this book! It was a surprisingly interesting read. I was curious how a boy from New York grew up during the late seventies and eighties. And I was delighted to find that we had similar experiences. However, I was a girl growing up in Ontario. Throughout my read, I kept thinking how great this novel would be for young people to study at school. It reflects a time and a person that resonates with every decade.
Barbara White
Mar 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Martin Chronicles is a great coming of age story, to which many can relate. Issues we grow up with in our lives are front and center. This is the kind of book my students like to read. They've devoured it. To me, that is the best review possible. My students related to the story. Thanks to Goodreads First Reads for a copy of The Martin Chronicles. We look forward to more from John Fried.
Aug 06, 2019 marked it as couldn-t-finish  ·  review of another edition
It isn't necessarily bad, it's just so boring. If you force yourself to read long enough then the characters become quite endearing, but it felt like every time I put it down all those positive feelings went away and I would have to force myself to like the characters all over again every time I picked it back up. This could've been interesting or heartwarming, but it's like a super stale diary instead.
Dec 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
I picked up an advance reader copy of this book at my local bookstore. I found it an enjoyable, easy read. Martin was an incredibly realistic character. He could act like a complete ass sometimes. He wasn't altruistic, he made bad choices, and he did not achieve anything remarkable in the book, which makes it a refreshing coming of age tale. The story just felt real and honest and most readers can relate to having moments of doubt or making poor choices as they were growing up.
Mrs Mommy Booknerd
#FirstLine ~ Girls invaded our school a month into sixth grade.

An interesting coming of age novel, that reads quickly. It was heartfelt and honest with all the highs and lows that come with growing up. It is it not always pretty or fun, but we can all relate to the struggles and triumphs of youth. A good book for book club because there is a lot to discuss.
Derek Moore
Jan 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Very easy read about the coming of age of a young boy. John Fried gives the reader insight into Marty's life growing up and trying to fit in with his contemporaries. We see him struggling with dating, his first love, his encounters with sex and his dealing with the loss of his cousin Evie. All in all a very well written and delightful book.
Jan 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
The Martin Chronicles is a charming book filled with short stories of Marty, an 11 year old boy who grows up in the 80's to all the familiar antics and anxiousness of boys finding their way in the world, the last few are during Marty's age of 17. Quick and fun! Thank you #Goodreads #GrandCentralPublishing
Mar 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
This was a charming little series of stories about a boy growing up in the 80s. The book begins with our main character Martin dealing with girls invading his all boys school. The book is very entertaining and has lots of continuity as it jumps forward in time. I wish the book had been just a bit longer but only because I enjoyed it.
Jim Matysik
Mar 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
This book went from me hate reading it to loving it. I couldn’t give it five stars because of how slow it started. By the way, it’s totally subjective. Maybe others won’t find it slow. It was so great from the middle to end that I almost went back to read the beginning again. This book really captures the idea of adolescence.
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