Synopses & Reviews
Sixteen year-old Alex Rileys top priorities in life are to find his long-absent father and a girl with a decent set of breasts. But his mother has a knack for sabotaging his plans. To advance her political career, she takes in an elderly black man named Lester Bray. Lester arrives with a vintage Cadillac and an old man's personality. It takes only a week for Alex's mother to ask Lester to leave. That makes Alex angry. On the morning of his eviction, Lester and Alex set out on a road trip, ostensibly to find the boy's father in Fort Lauderdale. But the two don't just head south. They also cross through un-navigated political, racial, and personal territory. A wild ride, Cadillac Chronicles explores what it means tofinallyfind a real friend.
Brett Hartman lived an unremarkable life in Fort Lauderdale until May 18, 1983, when he was arrested for aggravated battery. While away at Auburn University, he suffered a psychotic breakdown and months of intensive treatment. Though he made a full recovery, the events of that period never left him. He continued his education at Indiana State, where he received a doctorate in clinical psychology; he has worked as a psychologist ever since. His memoir Hammerhead 84 covers his journey through the mental health industry. Cadillac Chronicles is his debut novel. He lives in Albany, New York, with his wife and their two sons.
"Hartman, author of the memoir Hammerhead 84, makes his YA debut with a hard-hitting road trip novel that's unafraid to show the ugly sides of American life. Sixteen-year-old Alex has nothing but contempt for his politically calculating (and two-dimensionally callous) mother, and when she reneges on an offer to house an elderly black man named Lester after just a few days, Alex and straight-shooting Lester skip town, driving from New York State to Florida to find the father Alex never knew. Hartman doesn't tiptoe around either Alex's virility (he notices every pair of breasts that passes before his eyes and loses his virginity in a graphic sex scene) or Lester's infirmity (including the need for frequent pit stops, not always in time). He also doesn't miss a chance to describe characters' physicality in blunt, even cruel terms (Lester's morbidly obese sister 'could have strung together a couple of mop buckets for a bra'). A cynical outlook underlies Hartman's story, though the self-knowledge and maturity Alex gains during his travels leave room for hope. Ages 13 up. Agent: Anna Olswanger, Liza Dawson Associates." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
"[F]resh and gritty
The mix of humor, gravity, and angst will keep readers engaged, and this debut novel has enough of all three elements to appeal to reluctant and eager male readers alike." School Library Journal
, starred review
"Angry, just-turned-16-year-old Alex, a white boy, and equally angry but very old Lester, a black man, are unlikely road-trip buddies in this novel that transcends its conventions
Alex learns to drive, comes to understand a little of the hard truth of race in postCivil Rightsera America and spectacularly loses his virginity in a scene that will surprise readers as much as Alex
If there's little doubt about the end of the trip, readers will be happy they've gone along for the ride." Kirkus Reviews
"Lester and Alex from Cadillac Chronicles are going to live in my literary memory for a long, long time. I think they are two of most likable folks to come along in young adult books for awhile." Connie Griffin, Bookworks Independent Bookstore
"This road-trip novel is full of humor and surprises that make it a delightful read for teenage boys and many girls as well." Lyn Miller-Lachmann, Albany Times-Union
makes his YA debut with a hard-hitting road trip novel thats unafraid to show the ugly sides of American life
the self-knowledge and maturity Alex gains during his travels leave room for hope." Publishers Weekly
"Cadillac Chronicles by Brett Hartman is, on the surface, a journey by car to the South. But it is much, much more. It is a story of growing up. It's about growing old. It's about family. It's about loyalty. And most of all, it's about friendship
What makes this book such an engrossing read is the relationship between the young, angry, insecure Alex and the old, sick, angry Lester. But be forewarned, the book is not for the squeamish. There is a lot of profanity. There is sex and there are many references to young men's ability to form instant erections. To most, these references will just serve to make the book more authentic." Examiner.com
"Cadillac Chronicles is a fine addition to young adult fiction collections, a solid coming-of-age story, highly recommended." Midwest Book Review
"Whats fresh is the scene where Alex confronts his psychiatrist; his critique is devastating, timely, and on point, and it will give readers something to cheer about." Bulletin of the Center for the Children's Book
A Cadillac takes an ornery old black man and an angry white teenager down a road neither has traveled before.
About the Author
Brett Hartman lived an unremarkable life in Fort Lauderdale until May 18th, 1983 when he was arrested for aggravated battery. While away at Auburn University, he suffered a psychotic breakdown and months of intensive treatment. Though he made a full recovery, the events of that period never left him. He continued his education at Indiana State, where he received a doctorate in clinical psychology; he has worked as a psychologist ever since. He discovered a passion for writing while working on his memoir, Hammerhead 84, which covers his journey through the mental health industry. Cadillac Chronicles is his debut novel. He lives in Albany, New York with his wife, Sarah, and their two sons, Benjamin and Nicholas.