A trip with his estranged father changes Nate forever.
Commended for the Popular Paperback Young Adults Pick, 2014 and short-listed for the Forest of Reading - White Pine Award for Fiction, 2014
Just as summer vacation is about to arrive, Nate Huffman’s plans are unexpectedly shelved for the most unlikely of reasons: the reappearance of his estranged father. Not only is the old man back, he’s got this goofy idea about a road trip the two of them will take.
Nate finds himself in a pickup with a man he can’t stand. His father wants to reconnect, and he wants Nate to really understand him. Larry Huffman has chosen to make this happen by taking his son into his own past, which has the Vietnam War as its centrepiece.
As the two struggle their way through the jungle of the Ashau Valley, the old man relives the horror of the battle that changed him forever, and Nate undergoes changes of his own – and they experience something that goes far beyond what either of them expected.
David A. Poulsen has been a broadcaster, teacher, football coach, and actor. The author of more than 20 books, David spends 80 to 100 days each year as a visiting author in schools across Canada. His young adult novel Numbers was awarded the Sakura Medal in Japan. He lives in Claresholm, Alberta.
How two people with a connection long severed come to know each other again is one of the intriguing aspects of this novel, and Poulsen's approach is sure and steady.
Nate is a totally authentic teenage character, from his shyness in showing affection for his devoted mother, to his enthusiasm for an attractive Australian tourist, to his surliness with the father who abandoned him. Her wears his heart on his sleeve, and his vulnerability is endearing.
Old Man is tightly written and fast-paced. It’s a book about relationships and about war, and it will appeal to teenage boys because the heavy themes are conveyed through Nate’s engaging and humorous voice.
Nate’s perspectives and sympathies are deepened by his journey, as will be the reader’s.
Many surprises await both Nate and the reader; Poulsen crafts a story that has lots of twists and turns but which remains completely authentic. Nate’s voice, sometimes blunt, always honest, starts strong and continues through the story, keeping the reader completely engaged with his thoughts and his discoveries… Gripping, revealing, funny and sad, Old Man will be welcomed by Poulsen fans everywhere.
…this is a grown-up book about the horrors of war and a boy discovering the grey areas of life, told in an irresistible, realistic young voice.
Poulsen has created something truly unique with this one – a juvenile fiction novel that could easily be flogged as an adult read as well. I'd like to give Poulsen a big pat on the back for creating a story that truly captures the strangeness of families and the demons people carry around and the miracle of healing.
[A] snappy, affecting YA-centered novel … Poulsen handles heavy material with sophistication.