From the author of the “lyrical and compelling” (USA Today) novel A Good American comes a powerful story of two friends and the unintended consequences of friendship, loss, and hope.
For Robert Carter, life in his coastal Maine hometown is comfortably predictable. But in 1976, on his first day of eighth grade, he meets Nathan Tilly, who changes everything. Nathan is confident, fearless, impetuous—and fascinated by kites and flying. Robert and Nathan’s budding friendship is forged in the crucible of two family tragedies, and as the boys struggle to come to terms with loss, they take summer jobs at the local rundown amusement park. It’s there that Nathan’s boundless capacity for optimism threatens to overwhelm them both, and where they learn some harsh truths about family, desire, and revenge.
Unforgettable and heart-breaking, Setting Free the Kites is a poignant and moving exploration of the pain, joy, and glories of young friendship.
George's (A Good American) coming-of-age story set in Maine opens the summer of 1976, with Robert Carter anxious over the bullying that will surely resume with his return to middle school. This year, however, Nathan Tilly, a fearless new kid, steps in to protect Robert, and an important friendship begins. Tragedy and hardship visit both boys, and they rely on their bond as they face an otherwise lonely adolescence together. The settings in this touching story are frequently tinged with the magical quality of exploration a seaside home north of Haverford "that edged into the dark waves of the Atlantic," a windy beach cove "cut off at both ends by jagged promontories of rock" perfect for playing among the "columns of sun-bleached stones stacked one on top of another," which Nathan's mother crafted. The real treasure is the Arthurian-legend-themed amusement park Robert's parents own and operate, where "teenage knights," speaking in English accents, "clanked about in ill-fitting plastic armor and damsels swept up and down the pathways with bodices garlanded with ribbons." While the dialogue is occasionally perfunctory or moralizing, George is masterly in his rendition of Maine landscapes and the emotional swings of adolescence. Throughout their mischievous hijinks the boys are always thoughtful and kind and their intentions are noble (even na ve), though serious danger is never far behind.