Frank Vaughn Killed by His Mom
It’s summer, 1965. School's out and Butch's birthday is in a few weeks. Perfect; three months of freeze tag, hide and seek and riding his bike way past dark. Well, maybe not completely perfect — Frank Vaughn, a classmate, is beaten to death by his crazy mother for leaving a report card at school. On top of that, Dad is touchier than ever and Mom sadder, so best to hide out next door with his best friend Tommy reading X-Men and hoping for that birthday GI Joe.
But in one night, Butch's summer explodes and he’s now riding across a turbulent and changing Dixie in a white Rambler station wagon, at the mercy of a manic depressive and wildly violent Dad. Like a crewman on Ulysses' ship, Butch encounters a one-eyed evil grandfather, a 12-year-old Siren, the lotus-eaters of Alabama…and Frank Vaughn. If Butch ever sees his beloved sister, Cindy, again, it'll be a miracle. If he's alive at the end of the summer, it'll be a bigger one.
A dark version of "The Wonder Years," Frank Vaughn Killed by his Mom is "The Great Santini" written by Homer, careening through a coarse world of racism, adultery, abandonment, and even the occasional hope.
Plot/Idea: 7 out of 10
Originality: 7 out of 10
Prose: 7 out of 10
Character/Execution: 7 out of 10
Overall: 7.00 out of 10
Plot: Krauss' novel successfully takes us on a journey through an unforgettable, darkly fantastical summer in Butch's life after his mother and father announce their impending divorce.
Prose/Style: Krauss' prose is minimalist, but it gets the themes and main concepts across very well, while also maintaining a child's point of view.
Originality: Krauss' book has all of the hallmarks of a coming-of-age drama set in the 60’s, as Butch’s eyes are slowly opened to the real (and less-than-real) world around him.
Character Development: The characters in Krauss' young adult tale are nuanced, with many twists to them, and an evident commitment to emotional exploration, growth and development.
Date Submitted: April 12, 2019