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Getting the Girl

by Markus Zusak

Published by U.S. edition: Arthur A. Levine Books, 2003
261 pages
ISBN: 0-439-38949-6

Age 13 - 16

In Fighting Ruben Wolfe (U.S. edition: Arthur A. Levine Books/Scholastic Press, 2001), teenager Cameron Wolfe knew he could never live up to the traits and deeds of his handsome, charming, rough-and-ready older brother Ruben. Now, although still Ruben's biggest fan, Cameron inwardly questions his brother's cavalier attitude toward the young women he dates, realizing his differences from Rube go beyond looks, personality and athletic prowess to the core of the person he is. Not only could he never be like Ruben when it comes to the way he approaches girls and dating, he doesn't want to be like Ruben. Pondering this, Cameron begins a journey of self-discovery that is fueled by two tremendous events. First, he discovers the power of words through journal writing, and his entries are avenues of exploration and affirmation. Then Octavia, Ruben's former girlfriend, expresses interest in Cameron. For Cameron, "getting the girl" is not just about possession and lust (although lust is certainly on his mind). It's about understanding who she is, making their emerging relationship refreshingly tender and deep. After a devastating conversation with his older brother Steve, and a series of tense encounters with Ruben, Cameron also defines himself in part by his ability to move beyond the pain that members of his fiercely loving and loyal family manage to inflict on one another. He affirms the value of his own kind of strength and courage--to be himself, and to face the world with honesty. Markus Zusak moves with ease between scenes of astonishing depth to lighthearted banter between the brothers (that often harbors layers of meaning) to unabashed, sometimes outrageous humor. At the center of his heartening, funny story is a teen whose search for self--and self-respect--explores a universal theme. Cameron Wolfe isn't flashy or smooth. He's as unpolished as adolescence itself. But he has found the place within from which he can shine. (MS; April 14) 2003 Cooperative Children's Book Center

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