Setting Free the Kites
In his introspective novel Setting Free the Kites, Alex George reconnoiters the landscape of unabashed teenage feeling. On the first day of eighth grade in 1976, Robert Carter suffers undue torment from the school bully until Nathan Tilly, the new kid, comes to his rescue. Robert and Nathan form an unshakable connection, which is strengthened by a series of tragic events; together they cope in the refuge of carefree adventure. When both spend the summer working at the medieval amusement park owned by Robert’s family, Nathan’s untethered, impulsive spirit leads to a dreadful unraveling. Told with boyish charm tinged with menace, Setting Free the Kites is an emotionally textured story about the wonder of burgeoning friendship.
Written from Robert’s perspective forty years removed from the events in the book, George’s pensive narrative is somewhat juvenile and expected. Furthermore, the latter part of the novel contains a long digression about a character’s World War II experience as well as a shocking revelation that feels overwritten. However, the language George uses to convey the story is wonderfully vivid, particularly in the way he describes the book’s rich settings. Perhaps the most satisfying aspect of this novel is the beautiful mingling of devastating loss and inspiring hope. Setting Free the Kites is an emotionally explosive coming-of-age story that is well suited for adults and teens alike.
G.P. Putnam's Sons