"The Falconer" by Dana Czapnik

Reviewed by Julia

ISBN 9781501193224

The scene is Manhattan in 1993, warm asphalt and the grip of a well-worn ball covered in miniscule city diamond dust, flying like a planet through outer space observed and handled by a teenage Lucy Adler.  Lucy is from Brooklyn, curly haired and tall and awkward in her body everywhere geographically but one place - the basketball court.  There she exudes the lightness and grace of athletic prowess such as the Falconer, a statue of a young boy and hawk at liftoff in Central Park.  Our young narrator is sharp, and possesses a wit and quality of attention much akin to Holden Caulfield, and Lucy's way of moving through New York in adolescence begs many comparisons to Catcher in the Rye.  She has a crush on her pickup game partner, Percy, who leaves graffiti in magic marker and chalk around the city and attends the same private school as she.  Lucy's days are spent maneuvering the city and philosophizing with her peers Percy, the passionate Alexis (who also shares a strong intelligence and compulsion to shoot hoops), and on visits to her older artist cousin Violet's studio.  The backdrop of New York is its own character; every walk around the city has a different flavour and is intricately, exquisitely, and humorously described by author Czapnik.  Teenage angst and growth rarely gets such a rich setting, and each chapter is another intricate layer of the island experienced.  This book had me smelling, hearing, seeing, and tasting the city at that time through the world of a young woman coming of age and trying to make sense of the game of life and the choices we make.  This is adult fiction, but Lucy Adler feels very real to me.  Each conversation carries purpose and depth, and Lucy's eye for spectacular minutiae within both physical and interior experiences will awaken your own senses!