Seventeen-year-old Cecil Rowe loves to write, to read, to think, and to amble about his tiny Tidewater town of Bricksburg, Virginia. Of course, if he had a driver's license, he'd rather drive. And if he could make up his mind which girl to choose, he'd want to take one along.
Cecil in Space is Sid Hite's most thoughtful, romantic, and insightful coming-of-age novel. It captures that wonderful time in a young writer's life when he begins to feel the power of his own words, and the precise moment in a young man's growth when clarity can only come in a kiss.
Striking a happy medium between the folkish tone of his Dither series and the more down-to-earth style of An Even Break, Hite lightheartedly depicts small-town life as experienced by 17-year-old Cecil Rowe. The plot, leisurely revolving around the desecration of a town's "welcome" sign, is less pertinent than the characters colorfully populating Bricksburg, Va., "a boring little village set down in the middle of nowhere." In Cecil's clique, there is best friend Isaac, accused of tampering with the sign; Isaac's 16-year-old sister, Isabel, whom Cecil views differently now that she's "grown"; fickle Ariel Crisp ("Snob or no snob, Ariel Crisp is the best-looking young woman in King County"); Virgil Spintz, who seems to have pointed the finger at Isaac; and Pauley Harrington, who has been downcast ever since the disappearance of his dog. The adults are kept to a lower profile, but they, like Cecil, are offbeat. For the most part, the novel presents a slice of summer life, when hearts are fluttering as fast as the crickets are chirping and everyone is looking for a way to escape boredom and heat; but this wouldn't be a Hite novel if there wasn't a little philosophical musing along the way. Cecil, well versed in psychology and astronomy, marvels over theories of time, space, black holes, schizophrenia and his placement in the universe during quiet moments. While parodying ordinary foibles, the author conveys his deep affection for people and their quirks. This addition to his repertoire could well win him new fans. Ages 11-14.