The seventeen-year-old narrator of Steve Berman’s Vintage is all too familiar with life’s disappointments and cruelties. In his short life, he’s already survived losing his friends, a suicide attempt, and being disowned by his parents. Though he’s found refuge with a loving aunt and new friends, he’s still too shy and insecure for love or romance, until the night he decides to walk home alone on a quiet, haunted highway. What follows in a sensual, but dangerous relationship with a long-dead spirit that he soon realizes must end before he loses everything.
This coming-of-age story presents an honest narrative of the joys and tragedies of growing up. For fans of speculative YA fiction, Vintage has much to recommend it: marginalized teenagers, haunted graveyards, Ouija boards, sÃ©ances, and spirits who have lost their way to the next world. It also has an extremely likable protagonist who remains unnamed throughout the tale, which highlights his poignant alienation from those he cares about, even the boy who loves him. It would be easy for the characterization of these punk/goth/emo teens to be affected or clichÃ©d, but Berman presents realistic characters who have unexpected depth and intelligence that make them sympathetic and engaging. And when the “macabre things” they’ve invited into their lives “turn against” them, how they choose to respond makes for compelling, pleasurable reading.
Vintage deserved to win the Andre Norton Award, and is highly recommended for all libraries with a young adult section.
Tracy Marie Nectoux
Book Review Editor
Cataloger, Illinois Newspaper Project
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign