Laura Polla Scanlon

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Last Updated on May 6, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 194

The horror and despair of the drug scene is conveyed in this excellent book [Tuned Out] without romance or sensation. The book's substance is the journal of a 16-year-old boy, his record of the summer that Kevin, his older brother and idol, returned from the University of Chicago.

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For Jim the summer is a nightmare. Kevin learned to "turn on and tune out" at school. LSD is his bag now. The family is respectable, middle class. The parents are kind but incredibly dense and unaware of any change in Kevin. Jim bears the burden of caring for him through his last freak-out. The journal tells more than Kevin's story. It reveals much about the family and about the complex relationship between the two boys. The author is so skillful that the narrator's own ambivalence and anger is effectively expressed, sometimes through subtle changes in the journal's style. The book offers no pat resolution. The author knows too much about human nature to indulge in that.

Laura Polla Scanlon, in her review of "Tuned Out," in Commonweal (copyright © 1968 Commonweal Publishing Co., Inc.; reprinted by permission of Commonweal Publishing Co., Inc.), Vol. LXXXIX, No. 8, November 22, 1968, p. 289.

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