Publication Date: May 6, 2013
In Fun & Games by David Michael Slater, Jonathan Schwartz is coming-of-age in the 1980s. At the crossroads of religion and his wacky family, Jonathon navigates the difficult years toward adulthood with humor. Fun & Games is a story of love, loss and skeletons in the closet.
The author, David Michael Slater, gave me a copy of this novel in exchange for my review.
Cross Dazed and Confused with a Neil Simon play, is set it in the 1980s and the end result will be Fun & Games. The novel starts with 14-year-old Jonathan and his D&D friends gathered at Jonathan’s home. The older sisters are familiar stereotypes. The oldest sister is too smart for her own good and the younger sister (older than Jonathan) derives self-esteem from her sexual being and is none too bright a bulb. The older sister has convinced her younger sister that to avoid date rape at the prom; she must master the ability to turn a boy on to the extent that he will not be able to resist ejaculating in his pants without ever having been touched. The scene is set for a story worthy John Hughes film.
There is a subtle intelligence behind Fun & Games. The undertones of meaning don’t smack a reader in the face but instead, whisper between the lines in the scenes. Religion is a prevailing theme. Jonathan’s father is very much anti-religion and his influence on his family is strong. He respects those who believe but he does not share their beliefs. The story could easily come off as a sermon against organized religion but instead, it urges readers to think for themselves and come to their own conclusions while maintaining a light entertainment that is sometimes fun and sometimes challenging.
The plot line is sequential. We are with Jonathan as he lives day-to-day. I found his grandparents especially appealing. The father of Jonathan’s mother lost his wife in France after surviving the Nazi occupation. He brought his baby daughter to the United States and then met the mother of Jonathan’s father who supervises the first date of their children. They married, as did their children. Of course, the youngsters in Jonathan’s class, when his grandmother speaks to them, can’t fathom that the marriage came long after their children were born. At one point in the story, Jonathan’s grandmother leads him to question if believing in fate is the same as believing in God. There is another point in the story where the family is traveling and while the scene is supposed to be and is funny, my heart broke for the grandmother, which I have to think, was also the intent.
The author has written a teen series that is in development for the big screen. Fun & Games would make a fabulously funny movie for a teen crowd with the kind of heart that appeals to adults. Those of us who came of age in the 1980s will find nostalgia galore in this humorous take on a boy and his friends in the 1980s. I highly recommend this novel for those fans of nostalgic fiction. If you like Neil Simon’s work, you will like this novel.
Read an excerpt and buy Fun & Games by David Michael Slater on