Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels
- Age: 0
- Grade: p to 12
- Reading age: 0
Sixteen-year-old Gray Fallon's life is looking pretty good. His easygoing parents -- a university science professor and silkscreen artist -- are happy for him to entertain his friends in his suburban basement. A part-time job at the Cineplex, the occasional beer or joint, a smart, funny best friend, a hot new girlfriend -- things couldn't really be any better.
Then Gray's twelve-year-old science nerd sister, Maggie, is diagnosed with a rare form of cancer. Gray learns that the cancer may have environmental causes and sets out to uncover the cause and make Maggie better. His research reveals that silkscreen chemicals may be responsible for Maggie's illness. His mother's subsequent breakdown and father's anger finally drive him to quit school and seek haven at an organic farm. However, there is no escaping the reality of Maggie's illness, and the climax, written with wisdom, compassion and a complete lack of easy sentimentality, is a tour de force.
About the author
Dede Crane is the author of the literary novel Sympathy, which was a finalist for the Victoria Butler Book Prize. She has also published the teen novel, The 25 Pains of Kennedy Baines. Her first published story, “Seers,” appeared in Grain magazine and was short listed for the CBC Literary Award; she has since been published in numerous literary journals. Dede has also co-edited, with author Lisa Moore, a collection of non-fiction stories about the experience of giving birth. She is currently working on a second teen novel, Poster Boy. A former professional ballet dancer and choreographer, Dede Crane has studied Buddhist psychology and psychokinetics at Naropa Institute in Colorado and the Body-Mind Institute in Amherst, Massachusetts. She currently calls Victoria, B.C. home.
This novel is fast-paced and features realistic, intriguing characters. Young adult readers will take a lot from discussions about Gray.
[Poster Boy] is an affecting book peopled with wonderfully flawed characters...[The main character] is thoroughly believable and will resonate with teen readers.
Poster BoyDede Crane’s latest teen novel Poster Boy delivers a satisfying and emotionally rich story with realistic and colourful characters. This novel deftly explores the serious issues of illness, familial bonds and environmentalism while providing the reader with an enjoyable, though heart wrenching, experience. Crane handles this delicate subject matter with grace and understanding. The reader is left with a sense of hope and an interesting insight into the differences between love and gratitude.
When the story begins we meet Gray, a 16-year-old boy interested in girls, gaming, photography and partying. To Gray, his family life seems rather mundane – with parents who rarely argue and an overachieving little sister named Maggie. When Maggie is diagnosed with Rhabdomyosarcoma, a debilitating type of cancer, his straightforward life is overturned. As Maggie’s health declines, Gray’s parents drift apart as they both cope with their child’s illness. Gray searches for a way to save his sister while also discovering a passion for environmentalism. This passion leads him to drop out of school and find a position working at an organic farm. Making mistakes along the way, Gray develops a greater understanding of himself and ultimately finds a new outlook on life.
I highly recommend this novel as it not only captures the interest of its readers, it also encourages them to examine their own lives and passions. Gray’s journey is one that should be shared by all.
Source: The Canadian Children's Bookcentre. Fall 2009. Vol.32 No.4.