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Hanging on to Max

Review

Hanging on to Max

Sam is a high school senior. On top of the usual homework and girl worries, he has custody of his 11-month-old son, Max. He is up at night feeding the baby, sandwiching schoolwork between diaper changes and playtime. It is obvious that Sam absolutely adores Max, but it's also apparent that he is overwhelmed by his responsibilities. He tries to keep track of what he needs to do by posting a list: "Get Max to sleep by 9:00," "Drink out of cup," and "nap schedule." No matter how hard he tries, Sam believes he has failed as a father, a son, a student and a friend.

Sam now attends the alternative high school and spends his time between classes at the school daycare. He and Max live with Sam's father, who doesn't talk much, and he has lost touch with his old best friend, Andy. So Sam is understandably lonely.

One day, he is shocked to discover his long-time crush, Claire, at the school daycare carrying her own baby. Despite his love of math, Sam's deal with his father does not include college. Once he graduates, he'll work in construction in order to pay his dad back. But when Claire suggests he study with her for the SATs, he can't resist. The high numbers he scores on the tests reawaken his old yearnings for a degree. When he meets up again with Andy, he can't help but remember how it was to be an unencumbered teenager.

His romantic fantasies come true when he and Claire become a couple. Not only is he attracted to her, but they also share the powerful bond of single teen parenthood. Claire adds companionship to Sam's lonely life. As time goes by, it's clear that Claire sees the four of them as a future family. She's a good mom, and it would all work out perfectly. Or would it?

There are no easy answers for Sam in HANGING ON TO MAX. This is not a book for anyone who wants a sugarcoated daydream about teen parenthood. It is a realistic view of difficult consequences and choices, narrated by a likeable main character. I found tender, responsible Sam to be a unique person in an original story (how many books focus on a teen father?). Readers may find themselves unable to close the book until the end.

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Reviewed by Terry Miller Shannon on October 18, 2011

Hanging on to Max
by Margaret Bechard

  • Publication Date: December 1, 2003
  • Genres: Fiction
  • Paperback: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Simon Pulse
  • ISBN-10: 0689862687
  • ISBN-13: 9780689862687