Summary and book reviews of The Falconer by Dana Czapnik

The Falconer

by Dana Czapnik

The Falconer by Dana Czapnik X
The Falconer by Dana Czapnik
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     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Jan 2019, 288 pages
    Paperback:
    Oct 2019, 304 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Lisa Butts
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About this Book

Book Summary

Told in vibrant, quicksilver prose, The Falconer is a coming-of-age story, providing a snapshot of the city and America through the eyes of the children of the baby boomers grappling with privilege and the fading of radical hopes.

New York, 1993. Seventeen-year-old Lucy Adler, a street-smart, trash-talking baller, is often the only girl on the public courts. At turns quixotic and cynical, insecure and self-possessed, Lucy is in unrequited love with her best friend and pick-up teammate Percy, scion to a prominent New York family who insists he wishes to resist upper crust fate.

As she navigates this complex relationship with all its youthful heartache, Lucy is seduced by a different kind of life - one less consumed by conventional success and the approval of men. A pair of provocative female artists living in what remains of New York's bohemia invite her into their world, but soon even their paradise begins to show cracks.

Excerpt
The Falconer

The ball is a face. Leathered and weathered and pockmarked and laugh lined. No, it's not a face. It's a big round world, with crevices and ravines slithering across tectonic plates. I bounce the world hard on the blacktop, and it comes back into my hand covered with a fine layer of New York City diamond dust—pavement shards, glass, crystallized exhaust from the West Side Highway—and it feels like a man's stubble, or what I imagine stubble might feel like against my palm, and it's a face again. I bounce the face, and it's back in my hand and it's something else. A sun. A red terrestrial planet. An equidimensional spheroid made of cowhide and filled with nitrogen and oxygen. Whatever it is, whatever I imagine it to be, I know it holds some kind of magical power.

There's Percy on my periphery. Limbs like a wind chime in a hurricane. He's open in the passing lane. Woo woos for the ball. But I got this. I've had the touch all game. I'm dribbling the sun nice...

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!
New York, 1993. Seventeen-year-old Lucy Adler, a street-smart, trash-talking baller, is often the only girl on the public courts. Lucy's inner life is a contradiction. She's by turns quixotic and cynical, insecure and self-possessed. Despite herself, she is in unrequited love with her best friend and pickup teammate Percy, scion of a prominent New York family who insists he wishes to resist his upper-crust fate.

As Lucy navigates this relationship in all its youthful heartache and prepares for life in the broader world, she begins to question accepted notions of success, bristling against her own hunger for male approval and searching for an authentic way to live and love. She is drawn into the world of a pair of provocative female ...
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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

The Falconer is an instant female coming-of-age classic replete with 1990s nostalgia; equal parts cinematic and contemplative, cynical and doggedly hopeful. Dana Czapnik's protagonist will undoubtedly draw comparisons to Holden Caulfield, the archetype of teenage misanthropy, but she is so much more than that — a completely original and exceptional creation...continued

Full Review (680 words).

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(Reviewed by Lisa Butts).

Media Reviews

New York Times
Czapnik, who herself grew up in Manhattan around the same time as Lucy, captures nostalgia — for both a vanishing New York and Lucy’s evaporating childhood — with the lucidity of a V.R. headset...Reader, beware: Spending time with Lucy is unapologetic fun, and heartbreak, and awe as well.

Publishers Weekly
Despite a lived-in sense of place, this coming-of-age novel seems to be about jaded young characters who have already come of age, leaving them - and the reader - with little room for emotional development.

Kirkus Reviews
Starred Review. Coming-of-age in Manhattan may not have been done this brilliantly since Catcher in the Rye. That comparison has been made before, but this time, it's true. Get ready to fall in love.

Author Blurb Claire Messud, author of The Burning Girl and The Woman Upstairs
Smart, tough, an extraordinary athlete, Lucy Adler teeters, zealous and baffled, on the cusp of womanhood. Dana Czapnik's frank heroine has a voice, and a perspective, you won't soon forget. The Falconer is an exhilarating debut.

Author Blurb Salman Rushdie, author of The Golden House and Midnight's Children
A deeply affecting tale of a young woman coming of age in a man's world. All the characters feel authentic and unique, and its protagonist, Lucy Adler, jumps right off the page...Lucy's journey into adulthood will be especially resonant with today's readers.

Author Blurb Colum McCann, author of Thirteen Ways of Looking and Let The Great World Spin

An unsentimental education in all that is urgent, soulful and intimate. As much the portrait of an era as it is the portrait of an adolescence, this is a crossover novel that will thrill readers of all generations. The Falconer captures the grueling, exhilarating pathos of one woman's quest to become whole. A wonderful debut.

Author Blurb Chloe Benjamin, author of The Immortalists and The Anatomy of Dreams
Meet Lucy Adler. As I read The Falconer, I felt like I'd found a literary cousin of Holden Caulfield - if Holden were a straight-shooting, hip-hop-listening, court-dominating, seventeen-year-old Jewish-Italian girl. Dana Czapnik has crafted a wholly original coming-of-age story. In basketball terms, The Falconer is a fearless three-point shot.

Author Blurb Rivka Galchen, author of Atmospheric Disturbances and American Innovations
Told with a poet's ear and a basketball player's eye and reflexes, The Falconer is an extraordinary book...Every detail feels true and important, every small observation tells a larger story. A wonderful new talent.

Reader Reviews

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Beyond the Book

Simone de Beauvoir

Lucy Adler, the teenage protagonist in The Falconer, is influenced by her older cousin, Violet, a painter and feminist who provides a model of independent womanhood (albeit an imperfect one). In one scene, Violet takes Lucy to a bookstore and buys her copies of French existentialist Simone de Beauvoir's seminal texts, The Ethics of Ambiguity and The Second Sex.

Simone de Beauvoir was born in Paris in 1908 and exhibited a brilliant and creative mind from an early age. She studied philosophy at the Sorbonne, becoming only the ninth woman to graduate from the college, which had only recently begun admitting women. She met Jean Paul Sartre there, and the two began their lifelong personal and professional collaboration. They were romantically...

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