Ron Koertge is the author of several acclaimed novels, including The Brimstone Journals. Of Stoner and Spaz, he says, My wife works with the learning disabled and the physically disabled. One night she came home and told me about a young man with cerebral palsy - and a terrific sense of humour. Coincidentally, that day I had talked to a former student of mine who'd recently been in rehab for substance abuse. What would happen, I wondered, if those two knew each other? Two months later I had the first draft of Stoner and Spaz. An avid movie buff, Ron Koertge lives in the house featured in John Carpenter's film Halloween. He teaches English at Pasadena City College and Vermont College in the US.
Gr 9 Up-Sixteen-year-old Ben Bancroft has cerebral palsy, no parents, an overprotective grandmother, and a pretty sorry life as far as he's concerned. He finds solace sitting alone in the back of the Rialto Theatre, watching old horror movies. One day, when he's watching Bride of Frankenstein for the umpteenth time, Colleen Minou, a notorious basket case and druggie at Ben's high school, plops down in the seat next to him and proceeds to place her woozy head on his shoulder. Thus begins the uneasy friendship between the odd pair. Ben's grandmother is horrified by this foulmouthed, thoroughly tattooed flake who dresses in miniskirts and tights, but he is too taken with her to care. The friendship between Ben and Colleen evolves and eventually blossoms into romance and then a sexual relationship. Both teens are desperately searching for self-acceptance, and they each make valiant attempts to help the other find it. The generous friendship of his neighbor and mentor also nudges Ben out of his shell and gives him a means of self-expression through filmmaking. Koertge displays his usual flair for creating believable characters, genuine dialogue, and some wonderfully humorous moments. Ben's apprehension and awkwardness with Colleen and her almost complete obliviousness to everything in the world around her rings true. Their need for a sense of belonging and their efforts to find it in one another are themes to which readers will certainly relate.-Edward Sullivan, White Pine School, TN Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
"If only a few more people dared to portray disabled people this way we might bury some of the patronising attitudes towards disabled people..." Dan Batten, Scope Magazine. "I shall use it in training..." Margie Woodward, Scope's Disability Equality Officer.
With a youthful edge to his voice, Hamilton brings a rich credibility to the roles of teenagers Ben and Colleen, stars of Koertge's sharp and emotionally moving YA novel. As two very different kinds of outcasts, drug-addicted Colleen and cerebral palsy-afflicted Ben forge an unlikely friendship that helps each of them blossom. And in the author's true-to-life style, setbacks, successes and uncharted territory await the duo on the path of self-discovery. Hamilton handily masters Koertge's smart, contemporary repartee between the protagonists, capturing each note of sarcasm and humor as well as lots of film and pop-culture references. Hamilton also adds welcome shades of color to supporting characters, including Ben's stuffy, overprotective grandmother. This winning performance, which envisions Ben and Colleen as likable and sympathetic-warts and all-will please fans of Koertge's work and surely gain him new admirers. Ages 12-up. (Jan.) Copyright 2003 Cahners Business Information.