Thursday, July 23, 2009

Neil Armstrong Is My Uncle & Other Lies Muscle Man McGinty Told Me by Nan Marino

 neil armstrong2Tamara Ann Simson is mad.  She’s mad because her mother  watches soap operas all day and doesn’t fit in with the other mothers in their suburb.  She’s mad because her beloved brother is away at college, and when he comes home, their dad yells at him about his long hair, and he yells at their dad for “working for the man.”  She’s mad because the new kid in the neighborhood, Douglas McGinty, lies about everything (“Did I happen to mention that I’m training for the Olympics…” “Did I ever tell you about the time I sang on Broadway?” “My uncle is Neil Armstrong, the astronaut.”),  and all the other kids and adults seem to believe him. But most of all she’s mad because her best friend Kebsie moved away one day without even saying good-bye.  And worst of all, the new kid is living in the house where Kebsie lived with her foster mother.  Tamara calls him “Muscle Man” because he’s so scrawny, but he seems to like his nickname.  In fact, he’s cheerful about everything, no matter how mean Tamara is to him.  By the end of the book, when everyone in the neighborhood is watching the astronauts land on the moon, Tamara learns that even though someone is cheerful on the outside, they might be just as lonely on the inside as she is.  Author Nan Marino says that she chose 1969 as the year to set her first novel in because, “ The day that the first man walked on the moon is one of those moments in history that elevated the human race by filling our hearts with hope.”  Review by Stacy Church

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