Synopses & Reviews
You know things are bad when your dreams come with a washed-up '80s soundtrack
Henry "Hen" Birnbaum's sister, Sarah, missing for over a year, has come home unexpectedly, with no explanation at all. But he can't leave well enough alone; Hen needs to figure out why she disappeared, even if she won't tell him. It's not like he has anything better to do. His girlfriend just dumped him and kicked him out of their band. He can't play the bass worth crap anyway. His social life consists of night after night of VH1 marathons with his best friend and next-door neighbor, the neurotic Emma Wood.
Hen's sure the answers to Sarah's lost year lie with Gabriel Stern—Sarah's friend from college who also happens to be a twenty-two-year-old fugitive from the law and Hen's bass teacher . . . too bad he can't play bass worth crap either. A month into his quest, Hen has had countless consultations with Emma, watched approximately fifty-three reruns of Behind the Music, and made one new Facebook friend. Unfortunately, he's no closer to any revelations about his sister. The thing is, he's too distracted to notice it, but while Hen's been looking for all the answers, something mind-blowing happened: He got a life.
"Offbeat characters, an intriguing mystery, and a sweet romance make Ehrenhaft's (That's Life, Samara Brooks) coming-of-age story stand out. When 16-year-old Hen's older sister returns after a year on the lam, she won't tell him what she and her friends did to become fugitives. In between bass practice, dog walking, and spending an awful lot of time with his best friend, Emma, Hen tries to sort out the mystery, which only deepens when Sarah disappears again. Readers may tire of the narrator's voice that Hen starts hearing in his head halfway through (it's that of Jim Forbes, of VH1's Behind the Music, giving a fictional account of Hen's band's rise to fame). But Hen has a pleasantly deadpan sense of humor, and the supporting characters are entertaining (Hen's father insists Hen 'declare' his paltry dogwalking income, while his self-absorbed ex writes that she broke up with him 'because you were never all that into me,' even while telling him who he really loves). The mystery and romance wrap up rather neatly, but readers should be impressed by the clever surprise ending. Ages 12 up." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
“A sympathetic and hapless teen antihero who manages to retain his sense of humor even when the chips are way, way down. Carltons parallel blackandwhite comics do a clever job. Fluffy, but with that spicy edge of a deepthinking outsider.” School Library Journal (starred review)
Praise for Daniel Ehrenhafts Drawing a Blank:“Very engaging, highly entertaining, and sometimes enlightening. A fresh, effervescent combination of mystery, adventure, and teen angst.” Booklist (starred review)
About the Author
Daniel Ehrenhaft is the author of several dozen books for children and young adults—so many books, in fact, that he has lost count. He has often written under the pseudonym Daniel Parker (his middle name, which is easier to spell and pronounce than his last) and occasionally as Erin Haft. He lives in Brooklyn with his wife, Jessica, as well as a scruffy dog named Gibby and a psychotic cat named Bootsy. When he isn't writing, he tirelessly travels the globe on a doomed mission to achieve rock stardom. His musical credits include the composition of bluegrass soundtrack numbers for the epic straight-to-video B movie The Grave, a brief stint playing live rap music to baffled Filipino audiences in Hong Kong, and scoring the still-picture montage Election Trip. He once worked in a cheese shop. He was fired.