Setting

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Last Updated on May 11, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 185

The setting of Facing Up is not an integral part of the story. While it is set in modern-day Long Island, just about any city would have worked as well. Revolving around the high school and the homes of the teen-age characters, much of the action in Facing Up takes...

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The setting of Facing Up is not an integral part of the story. While it is set in modern-day Long Island, just about any city would have worked as well. Revolving around the high school and the homes of the teen-age characters, much of the action in Facing Up takes place in and around cars. The tragedy on which the novel centers occurs on a darkened highway as a result of an inexperienced driver combined with hazardous driving conditions.

The last chapters of the novel take place in the countryside as Dave travels to Montauk Point. At a little-used beach at the end of Long Island, Dave finally comes to terms with the changes in his life. There is a suggestion that the change of scenery is necessary for Dave to have a chance to understand the implications of Jep's death and his own role in it. It is also possible to argue that Brancato intends her readers to see the contract between the fast-paced life in suburbia, with its attendant materialistic values, and the more wholesome, basic lifestyle that characterizes the countryside and seashore.

Literary Qualities

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Last Updated on May 11, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 220

A contemporary novel of teen-age high school life, Facing Up deals with friendship and relationships in a story with enough action and dialogue to keep young adults entertained. Dave, a likeable and interesting protagonist, is faced with problems that will be familiar to many of today's teenagers. Through his story Brancato explores the dilemma many teenagers face in choosing between same-sex friends and those of the opposite sex. Facing Up also discusses frankly the differences between real friendship and sham relationships manipulated by one partner for personal satisfaction.

A central issue that concerns all the characters is the effect of death on their lives. An early conversation between Dave and Jep foreshadows Jep's death, and the opinion Jep expresses about death might soften some reader's reactions to the tragedy. Near the end of the novel, Dave undergoes a symbolic death and rebirth, nearly drowning in the ocean but living to begin his life anew with friends such as Nan and his longtime male companion Willoughby, who organizes a rescue mission after learning from Nan where Dave may have run to. The novel is an affirmation of life in the face of both feigned and real tragedy, and can serve as an object lesson for teen-agers who are often convinced that there is nothing to live for when close relationships end.

Social Sensitivity

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Last Updated on May 11, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 99

Brancato deals sensitively with the subject of teenage friendship, betrayal, and loss in Facing Up. While touching on the issue of teen-age drinking, Brancato avoids preaching. The middle-income youngsters in her novel are already drinking as part of their socializing— without parental approval. This is clearly wrong, but by showing the consequences of drinking, the author invites the reader to reach his or her own conclusions. The realistic treatment of the subject, as well as Brancato's graphic description of Jep's death and its effect on Dave, may require special attention by teachers and other adults working with younger readers.

For Further Reference

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Last Updated on May 11, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 115

Allen, Constance. Review. In School Library Journal, April 1984: 122. A short negative review.

Commire, Anne, ed. Something About the Author. Vol 23. Detroit: Gale Research, 1981. Contains a brief sketch of the author's life and works.

Flowers, Ann. Review. In Horn Book, 60 April 1984: 199. While finding it "less observant of the social milieu" than The Outsiders, Flowers, nevertheless considers

Facing Up

filled with "vitality and interest."

Marowski, Daniel, ed. Contemporary Literary Criticism. Vol 35. Detroit: Gale Research, 1985. Contains excerpts from reviews of Brancato's novels.

Yablonsky, Victoria. Review. In Voice of Youth Advocates, October 1984: 195. While noting "the use of some negative female stereotypes," this reviewer suggests that Facing Up be considered by those seeking novels dealing with friendships between adolescent males.

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