Ann Edwards Cannon
Cal Cameron by Day, Spider-Man by Night
Although aimed at an adolescent market and thus
simple in style and resonant with the idiom of the
young, this Delacorte Award-winning first novel’s
insight and depth, its acute rendition of and wise
commentary on the conflicts of the young, make it a
novel for adults as well. In the author’s skillful hands
the ordinary becomes extraordinary. She has created
a protagonist of high school age in whom an emerging
tolerance and decency triumph over the clannish
values of his peers; who learns to understand the
sometimes not-so-understanding adults around him
and to affirm the outcasts from his own age group; who
learns, most notably, to discount the fear of eccentricity.
"So we do all sorts of things to show how superior
we are," Cal Cameron recognizes; "We treat [the
eccentric] like they’re not even real -- ignore them,
laugh at them, trick them into singing private songs."
And Cal moves in an authentic contemporary social
context: young and old, the personalities with whom
he interacts are alive and credible. With quiet eloquence
and unflagging perspicacity, the author has
revealed, explained and judged attitudes and motives.
Although none of her characters are expressly Latter-day
Saints, they exist in the familiar setting of Provo,
Utah and may easily be construed as Mormons who
display, not the peculiarities of their faith, but the traits
of a universal humanity.