Setting Free the Kites

Setting Free the Kites by Alex George is a moving novel of friendship, family, loss and reconcilation.

Nathan Tilly and his parents arrive in Haverford, Maine, in the autumn of 1976, following Mr. Tilly's whimsical decision to buy a lobster boat. Robert Carter's family owns Fun-a-Lot, the amusement park where nearly every teenager in town has a summer job. Beginning a friendship with unexpected acts of kindness and violence, Nathan rescues Robert from the eighth-grade bully before they witness the terrible kite-flying accident that kills both Mr. Tilly and Nathan's pet mongoose.

Nathan's life is changed by loss, but Robert's life has been defined by the expectation of it. His brother, Liam, is terminally ill, and his parents' preoccupation with their older son's condition has made Robert feel like his family's afterthought. Nathan is adventurous and optimistic despite his losses, while Robert's have made him more cautious and reserved. Their personalities balance each other, and they are nearly inseparable as they enter high school and join the summer staff at Fun-a-Lot. They soon find much of that time will not be much fun at all. 

Setting Free the Kites is told from Robert's adult perspective as he looks back on three years of his youth. So much happens that a reader might feel like George was piling it on his characters, if not for the humor and genuine feeling he weaves throughout their story. The result is a balance of comedy and tragedy that mirrors the friendship it describes and makes for an emotionally resonant novel. --Florinda Pendley Vasquez, blogger at The 3 R's: Reading, 'Riting, and Randomness

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