The Boy and the Lake
by Adam Pelzman
Publish Date September 29, 2020
Jackson Heights Press
About The Boy and the Lake
Set against the backdrop of the Newark riots in 1967, a teenage Benjamin Baum leaves the city to spend the summer at an idyllic lake in northern New Jersey. While fishing from his grandparents’ dock, the dead body of a beloved neighbor floats to the water’s surface—a loss that shakes this Jewish community and reveals cracks in what appeared to be a perfect middle-class existence. Haunted by the sight of the woman’s corpse, Ben stubbornly searches for clues to her death, infuriating friends and family who view his unwelcome investigation as a threat to the comfortable lives they’ve built. As Ben’s suspicions mount, he’s forced to confront the terrifying possibility that his close-knit community is not what it seems to be—that, beneath a façade of prosperity and contentment, darker forces may be at work.
In The Boy and the Lake, Adam Pelzman has crafted a riveting coming-of-age story and a mystery rich in historical detail, exploring an insular world where the desperate quest for the American dream threatens to destroy both a family and a way of life.
The Boy in the Lake is the coming of age tale of Benjamin Baum, that centers around the “accidental” death of his neighbor. When Ben finds his neighbor’s body floating in the lake by his grandfathers summer home, he doesn’t think his neighbhor Helen’s death was an accident, and he’s overcome with the idea that he needs to figure out what happened.
This was a slow burn read for me that concluded with the most shocking and unexpected ending. Most of the story revolves around Ben finding himself, as he starts to experience feelings for girls, experiments with alcohol, and deals with a tumultuous relationship with his mother. Pelzman does a wonderful job with Benjamins character, and his writing is engrossing and poignant. The story reminded me slightly of the movie STAND BY ME where the entire tale is being narrated by Ben in a first person point of view as if he is recollecting a time of his youth.
The death of Helen seems to always be on the back-burner of Ben’s mind, and is reflected in the story as a continuous afterthought as Ben muddles through teen life. The ending is phenomenal and totally unexpected, and the last 1/4 of the book turns into a page turning thriller that makes you question your own loyalty to your family and community.
I truly enjoyed this book, and if you like a slow burn coming of age with an explosive ending, I highly recommend picking this one up.
I just would like to thank Adam Pelzman, Suzy from Suzy Approved Book Tours and Jackson Heights Press for the gifted copy of this book for my unbiased and honest opinion for review.
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”The Boy and the Lake is a poignant and haunting coming-of-age story … a multifaceted, evocative and masterfully told tale.” —Lynda Cohen Loigman, USA Today bestselling author of The Two-Family House and The Wartime Sisters
“Pelzman excels at creating an intensely atmospheric setting and revealing how it shapes his characters’ identities and worldviews … The narrative is full of rich, descriptive language … a well-developed vintage setting and classic but thought-provoking coming-of-age theme.” —Kirkus Reviews
About the Author
Adam Pelzman was born in Seattle, raised in northern New Jersey, and has spent much of his life in New York City. He studied Russian literature at the University of Pennsylvania and received a law degree from UCLA. His first novel, Troika, was published by Penguin (Amy Einhorn Books). He is also the author of The Papaya King, which Kirkus Reviews described as “entrancing” and “deeply memorable.” The Boy and the Lake, set in New Jersey during the late 1960s, is his third novel.
You can find out more about Adam on his website: www.adampelzman.com
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