Cal Cameron by Day, Spider-Man by Night
by A. E. Cannon
YA fiction. 133 pp.
Cal Cameron, high school jock and superhero comic book fanatic, is an insider at Scenic View High School. He's popular and he does the "right things." But Cal's life isn't as perfect as it looks. His cranky old granddad practically lives in Cal's back pocket, and Cal resents his brilliant sci-fi nut brother whose friends go to restaurants dressed as their favorite science-fiction characters. It is his emotionally distant father, with whom Cal has nothing in common, who saddens him the most.
But at the beginning of his junior year, cal's popular facade disappears. his heart isn't in anything—not even football. It's a time of crisis for Cal Cameron.
Enter Marti Jeffs, who has legs "like Charles Atlas" and isn't ashamed of them. Brand-new at Scenic View High, Marti doesn't seem to care what anyone thinks about her. Cal, who has made a career of being "in," is fascinated by Marti. They become friends, but Cal is careful to pursue their relationship away from high school because Marti is so unlike Cal's friends, and around her Cal acts like a different person. Cal feels as though he's leading a double life—Cal Cameron by day, Spider-Man™ by night.
This provocative and engaging novel, winner of the Fifth Annual Delacorte Press Prize for an Outstanding Young Adult Novel, introduces a remarkable, appealing hero, and A. E. Cannon, a highly original and witty writer.
I have a tendency to be rather forthcoming with my thoughts about the books I read. Occasionally, I have thoughts about how unabashed I may have been. For example, sometimes an author will come across my blog. When that happens, I reread what I've written about their book. With the most recent time this has happened, I reread the review to discover that I didn't say anything positive about the book. And I felt bad about that, because the book wasn't bad; it was just mediocre. But more than that, I felt bad because I've met this author before (maybe a couple times even) and she is wonderful and nice. So I decided that I would remedy this by reading one of her other books.
Hence Cal Cameron. I'm actually a bit surprised that I hadn't read this particular book before, but I'm glad I hadn't. You see, it's nice to come across something that is older. It's oddly refreshing. It's nice to have a story that's told rather straight forwardly. It's nice to have normal characters who aren't riddled with dysfunction and abnormality. The writing is good. The characterization is good. Actually, this is how good the characterization is—Cannon actually got me to be sympathetic toward and like a quarterback. That in and of itself is a feat worth commending. I really like how she walked us through his growth to where he becomes a better, truly likable person.
Fobby tells me that he thinks I'll also like Charlotte's Rose, despite my strong misgivings toward pioneer stories. (Really, if you have read as many pioneer manuscript submissions as I have, you'd have your misgivings about pioneer stories as well. Just ask DesMama.) So maybe I'll pick that one up sometime soon.