Johnny Temple

  • The boy protagonist in Phil LaMarche's roiling debut novel, American Youth, is tough and lonely in the manner of Russell Banks's lost-kid hero in Rule of the Bone. Ted LeClare's detachment from his peers is set against the backdrop of his family's—and the region's—economic dislocation, and LaMarche renders the culturally barren New England landscape with language that is both portentous and propulsive.

    Ted's first days of high school are up­ended by his role in the tragic death of a friend. Emotionally reclusive even before the accident, the boy begins a downward spiral that is interrupted