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Book cover of 48 Shades of Brown

48 Shades of Brown

by Nick Earls

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Pages: 288
Paperback
ISBN: 9780618452958






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Overview of 48 Shades of Brown

Australian teenager Dan Bancroft had a choice to make: go to Geneva with his parents for a year, or move into a house with his bass-playing aunt Jacq and her friend Naomi. He chose Jacq’s place, and his life will never be the same. This action-packed and laugh-out-loud-funny novel navigates Dan’s chaotic world of calculus, roommates, birds, and love.

While his parents are in Geneva, sixteen-year-old Dan spends his last year of high school living with his twenty-two-year-old bass-playing aunt, Jacq, and her beautiful friend Naomi, whose active lovelife is audible through the wall between their bedrooms.

Synopsis of 48 Shades of Brown

Australian teenager Dan Bancroft had a choice to make: go to Geneva with his parents for a year, or move into a house with his bass-playing aunt Jacq and her friend Naomi. He chose Jacq’s place, and his life will never be the same. This action-packed and laugh-out-loud-funny novel navigates Dan’s chaotic world of calculus, roommates, birds, and love.

Publishers Weekly

Reading nearly 300 pages of musings and speculations from a 16-year-old may not be everyone's cup of tea, but those who share narrator Dan's dry sense of humor and intellectual bent will find some very funny-even brilliant-moments in this Australian import. The story begins with Dan eagerly testing the waters of independence while his parents are away in Geneva, Switzerland, and about to enter his senior year. Dan is thrilled to be living with his hip, university student aunt, Jacq (who is only six years older than Dan), but it takes some adjustment for him to move from his parents' "beige," well-organized home to Jacq's chaotic, blue-green abode. While staying with his aunt Jacq, Dan ponders some minor mysteries of the universe (such as why author Neville W. Cayley chooses to use precisely "forty-eight shades of brown" to describe the species of birds in his guidebook). Dan also struggles with the more mundane puzzles of doing laundry and making an edible batch of pesto. Most of the narrator's meandering thoughts end up zeroing in on Jacq's roommate Naomi, a "flaxen-haired-love-goddess," who sets Dan's hormones raging whenever she waters her basil plants. Dan's growing infatuation with Naomi and his attempts to impress her become the main focus of the novel, paving the way to a series of wittily expressed blunders. Through Dan's voice, Earls perfectly captures the obsessive, self-conscious, confused state of mind that goes along with adolescence. A vibrant rendition of growing pains. Ages 14-up. (June) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

About the Author, Nick Earls

Nick Earls lives in Brisbane, Australia, where he writes for both children and adults. His previous Graphia book, 48 Shades of Brown, won Australia's Children's Book Council Book of the Year for Older Readers. It also received the following praise:

Reviews of 48 Shades of Brown

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Editorials

Publishers Weekly

Reading nearly 300 pages of musings and speculations from a 16-year-old may not be everyone's cup of tea, but those who share narrator Dan's dry sense of humor and intellectual bent will find some very funny-even brilliant-moments in this Australian import. The story begins with Dan eagerly testing the waters of independence while his parents are away in Geneva, Switzerland, and about to enter his senior year. Dan is thrilled to be living with his hip, university student aunt, Jacq (who is only six years older than Dan), but it takes some adjustment for him to move from his parents' "beige," well-organized home to Jacq's chaotic, blue-green abode. While staying with his aunt Jacq, Dan ponders some minor mysteries of the universe (such as why author Neville W. Cayley chooses to use precisely "forty-eight shades of brown" to describe the species of birds in his guidebook). Dan also struggles with the more mundane puzzles of doing laundry and making an edible batch of pesto. Most of the narrator's meandering thoughts end up zeroing in on Jacq's roommate Naomi, a "flaxen-haired-love-goddess," who sets Dan's hormones raging whenever she waters her basil plants. Dan's growing infatuation with Naomi and his attempts to impress her become the main focus of the novel, paving the way to a series of wittily expressed blunders. Through Dan's voice, Earls perfectly captures the obsessive, self-conscious, confused state of mind that goes along with adolescence. A vibrant rendition of growing pains. Ages 14-up. (June) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

KLIATT

To quote from the review of the audiobook in KLIATT, January 2003: This Australian coming-of-age novel is both funny and poignant. When his father is given a one-year assignment in Geneva, Daniel has three options: to accompany his parents, to board at school, or to move into a house with his 22-year-old Aunt Jacq. Jacq plays bass in an all-girl band and has a lovely blonde housemate named Naomi, a university student just two years older than Daniel. Figuring he can learn more than calculus in his last year of school, Dan opts to stay with Aunt Jacq and Naomi. There is a lot of frustration and confusion as 16-year-old Dan faces the awakening emotions generated by his "plan" for his year with Jacq and Naomi: to achieve his four goals—beer, sex, attitude, and calculus. As Dan fumbles through the process of forming a relationship with someone of the opposite sex, he also learns about making pesto, interpreting Romeo and Juliet, why almost all birds are one of the 48 shades of brown, and why his best course of action is just to be himself. KLIATT Codes: S—Recommended for senior high school students. 1999, Houghton Mifflin, Graphia, 274p., Ages 15 to 18.
—Carol Kellerman

VOYA

Named Australia's Children's Book Council 2000 Book of the Year for Older Readers, this enchanting coming-of-age novel is both hilarious and touching. Intelligent and sheltered Dan (a.k.a. Banger), the sixteen-year-old narrator, decides to complete his final school year in Australia. His parents will be in Geneva, Switzerland. He will live with his Aunt Jacq, a recent university graduate, and Naomi, her beautiful, flighty housemate, a university student a few years older than Dan. The situation presents practical responsibilities and his own sexual awakening. Expectations for cooking and cleaning confound him. His amorous feelings for Naomi dominate his life and lead him to use his intellectual powers for girl appeal. Dan's academic, housekeeping, and romantic roles combine and climax at a university party in which he and his friend plan to get girls by passing themselves off as second year law students. He learns a hard lesson instead: Drunks vomit. In the party fallout, Jacq reveals that she also holds amorous feelings for Naomi, Naomi discovers a new male lover, and Dan decides that he might have a chance with the girl he fooled at the party who was also posing as a university student. With small details about throwing up, basil, Romeo and Juliet, brown birds, postcards, and sex, Earls builds a too-true story that neither older young adults nor adults will be able to put down as their smiles become belly laughs that lead them to new perspectives. VOYA Codes: 5Q 5P S (Hard to imagine it being any better written; Every YA (who reads) was dying to read it yesterday; Senior High, defined as grades 10 to 12). 2004 (orig. 1999), Graphia/Houghton Mifflin, 288p., Trade pb. Ages 15 to 18.
—Lucy Schall

School Library Journal

Gr 9 Up-An insightful, appealing, and very funny novel about a teenage boy whose world is turned upside down when his father takes a job in Geneva and he chooses to stay in Australia to finish school. Dan lives with his 22-year-old Aunt Jacq, who is in a band, and her roommate, Naomi, an attractive psychology major who makes bad choices when it comes to men. Inexperienced and unsophisticated, he quickly falls for Naomi and is devastated when his feelings are not returned. Worse still, he has to listen as she and her jerk of a boyfriend have sex in the room next door. Extremely bright and sensitive, Dan is still learning about women, relationships, and controlling his compulsive behavior. His excessive introspection sometimes slows the pace of the novel, but the character feels genuine. Dan's socially awkward, porn-obsessed friend, Chris Burns, adds comic relief. The party Jacq and Naomi throw toward the end of the story leads to a conclusion that is both hilarious and moving. Dan is a wonderful, complex character. He combines his intense curiosity about sex with a rare thoughtfulness as he tries to figure out who he is and who he wants to become. Teen boys-and girls-will find much that they can relate to in this coming-of-age story.-Miranda Doyle, San Francisco Public Library Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

Kirkus Reviews

Dan's dry, wickedly funny first-person voice chronicles a month of his life as he moves in with his aunt in hometown Brisbane while his parents move to Geneva. Dan is 16, his aunt Jacq 22, and their third housemate-the winsome Naomi-a university student. Unlike his parents' reliably neat household, this place is casual: beer is offered freely, Naomi has audible sex with her boyfriend in the middle of the afternoon, and Dan's on his own for discipline. But Dan is no partier, just a wry, self-aware virgin pining for Naomi. He memorizes the 48 shades of brown that classify birds, but can't get them to come out of his mouth in suitable ways to attract her. A question about calculus (math) becomes an ongoing musing about Calculus (the Tintin professor) merely because Naomi misunderstands. Hip, sarcastic Jacq is kind underneath; Dan's self-deprecating but smart. Colorfully understated and satisfying-and hilarious. (Fiction. YA)

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