Cover image for Never so green / Tim Johnston.
Never so green / Tim Johnston.
Johnston, Tim, 1962-
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Farrar, Straus, Giroux, 2002.
Physical Description:
227 pages ; 22 cm
In Iowa in the 1970s, twelve-year-old Tex overcomes his self-consciousness about his deformed right hand to take baseball lessons from his stepfather and his tomboy stepsister, who harbors a dark secret.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR UG 5.2 8.0 65356.
Geographic Term:
Format :


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Material Type
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Item Holds
X Young Adult Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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School's out in Big River, Iowa, and Tex Donleavy, a kid who keeps his nose in the books and his deformed right hand deep in his pocket, is looking forward to a blissful summer in the company of Linda Volesky, the vivacious beauty who happens to be his father's girlfriend. Instead, Tex gets dumped on his mother's doorstep, where Farley Dickerson, the big oaf she's just married, and his two kids have made themselves at home. Nobody's more surprised than Tex, then, when he discovers he likes his new stepfather, that he actually wants to spend the summer at Mom's, and that he - Tex Donleavy - is going to play ball on Farley's Little League team. And then there's the plucky and brooding Jack, Farley's daughter, who becomes Tex's closest ally, as well as his greatest source of confusion. In all, it's shaping up to be a summer full of surprises - though nothing can prepare Tex for the biggest surprise of all, a secret so terrible that it will change the lives of every member of his family. Through his careful, lyrical prose, Tim Johnston expertly balances the pain of inching toward maturity with sly humor, making his fiction debut an auspicious occasion.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Gr. 6-10. Johnson debuts with a gut-wrenching small town tale of friendship, baseball, and "dirty little secrets." For Tex, early adolescence is like a walk over hot coals. Not only can't he keep his hands--even the one that's malformed--off of himself, he dreams of putting them on his father's girlfriend, and even on Jack, fierce daughter of his mother's new husband, Farley. Jack keeps her sex so well concealed that Tex doesn't know she is a girl until their friendship has blossomed, but she gives him his first baseball glove and practices with him until he is ready to join the Little League team Farley coaches. That closeness endures a terrible test when Tex sees what Farley does to Jack in her bedroom. Rich in vivid turns of phrase (summer means "no more rides on that craft of torment, the public school bus"), believable dialog, exciting baseball action, and with a cast in which everyone displays a complex range of strengths and flaws, this will draw readers irresistibly into Tex's private trials and dilemmas from its opening page to its heartening, if not happy, conclusion. --John Peters

Publisher's Weekly Review

The summer of 1974 is the best of times and the worst of times for sixth-grade graduate Tex Donleavy, who has grown up self-conscious about his deformed right hand. He discovers a new love, baseball; he also uncovers an almost unbearable secret. This impressive first novel opens as the school year ends, when Tex (who has been living with his divorced father) temporarily moves to his recently remarried mother's house. There he meets his boyish stepsister, Jack, a girl his own age who stirs up unfamiliar, confusing feelings in him. Their relationship grows increasingly complicated after Tex receives something Jack has always wanted-a chance to play ball on her father's boys-only Little League team. As Tex starts to feel comfortable with his new family and gains self-esteem through his newfound athletic prowess, his world begins to look as "green" as a baseball diamond. Then he witnesses a shocking act of sexual abuse that dramatically alters his view of his stepfather and stepsister. This hard-hitting tale candidly addresses once-taboo issues in a manner relevant to adolescents. Rather than preaching a moral lesson, Johnston raises provocative questions about family loyalty and the distinctions made between lust, love and endangerment. At the same time, his third-person narration gives Tex a distinctive, wry voice (e.g., Tex describes classmate Melanie Bloom as "a nice, shy, freckled girl who just that spring had undergone the promise of her name"). Although the subject matter is disturbing, it is handled well, and readers will experience cathartic relief as the novel reaches its conclusion. Ages 12-up. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

Gr 7-9-It is summer in the early 1970s in Big River, IA, and 12-year-old Tex Donleavy thinks he's going to spend it reading books and spying on his dad's young, sexy girlfriend. Instead, he ends up living nearby with his mom; her new baseball-loving husband, Farley; and a stepsister named Jack, who is a first-rate ballplayer but as a girl is forbidden to play on Farley's Little League team. She and her dad help Tex get over his self-consciousness about his withered right hand and transform him into a pitcher who helps the team win the pennant. Off the diamond, the summer also teaches Tex about sex in all its healthy and unhealthy forms. Tex is disturbed by his strong attraction to Jack, then sickened when he discovers that Farley has been molesting her for years. With his father's help, the boy ultimately confronts Farley, as well as his own feelings of betrayal and sexual awakening. The novel ends with a certain feeling of hopelessness on the part of Farley, but Jack shows her spunk and will to survive, and Tex comes to terms, at least temporarily, with his feelings for her. Johnston has written a very mature novel about kids being forced to deal with adult problems. He handles these themes with deftness and control. Sometimes the baseball scenes are overly jargoned, and there are times that the book seems fixated on sex. But then, many adolescent boys are, too. All in all, this powerful novel approaches tough themes, and doesn't give away any easy answers.-Linda Bindner, formerly at Truman State University, Kirksville, MO (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.