Modern Lit: American Boy, by Larry Watson

American Boy

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Matthew Garth is a teenage boy growing up in the midwest in the 1960’s. His father deserted him and his mom a long time ago, and Matt gratefully allows himself to be all but adopted by the well-to-do family of the town’s only MD, Rex Dunbar. The turmoil of the 60’s has yet to hit this corner of Minnesota, but Matt is suffering all the angst of the typical 17 year old. His world is about to be turned upside down, however, when a lovely young gunshot victim is first treated, then taken in, by the Dunbars, and Matt falls helplessly in love with the seductive Louisa. Unfortunately, so does Dr. Dunbar.

American Boy is the quintessential coming-of-age novel. The author’s writing style is polished and pleasing, but while author Watson skillfully recreates the ambience of his retro setting, Willow Falls, the only new element here is the rivalry between the callow, unsophisticated Matt and the worldly, experienced, movie-star-handsome doctor. The plot contains its drama, but from the start, it’s clear that the outcome can be nothing other it is.

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