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  • Written by Robert Cormier
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  • Written by Robert Cormier
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On Sale: March 19, 2013
Pages: 320 | ISBN: 978-0-307-52331-0
Published by : Delacorte Books for Young Readers RH Childrens Books
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Synopsis|Excerpt

Synopsis

IT IS THE summer of 1938 when young Paul Moreaux discovers he can “fade.” First bewildered, then thrilled with the power of invisibility, Paul experiments. But his “gift” soon shows him shocking secrets and drives him toward a chilling act.

“Imagine what might happen if Holden Caufield stepped into H. G. Wells’ The Invisible Man, and you’ll have an idea how good Fade is. . . . I was absolutely riveted.”—Stephen King

Excerpt

Fade

PAUL


At first glance, the picture looked like any other in a family album of that time, the sepia shade and tone, the formal poses, the men in solemn Sunday suits and the women, severely coiffed, in long skirts and billowing blouses. It was a portrait of my father's family taken before World War I on the front steps of the house in Quebec on the banks of the Richelieu River.

The family moved to New England shortly after the picture was taken, my father along with my grandparents, my five uncles and four aunts, among them my aunt Rosanna, whom I would love all the days of my life.

I discovered the photograph when I was eight or nine years old and was told immediately of its mystery by my cousin Jules, who swore me to secrecy. I found out eventually that the mystery of the photograph was not really a secret, although it provoked various reactions among members of the family. Some dismissed the mystery not as a mystery at all, but as a failure of the camera's mechanism or the result of a childish prank. Others spoke of the mystery in hushed tones, with raised eyebrows, as if even the mere mention of the picture would bring terrible consequences. My grandfather refused to talk about the photograph altogether and acted as if it didn't exist, although it occupied a place in the big family album in the mahogany desk in the parlor at his house.

My father was amused by it all. "Every family has its mysteries," he said. "Some families have ghosts, we have a picture."

The mystery?

In the space that was supposed to have been occupied by my uncle Adelard, at the end of the top row, next to my father, there is simply a blank space. Nothing.

My uncle Adelard had disappeared at the moment the camera clicked and the shutter opened.



My uncle Adelard was always disappearing, going away and coming back again, a drifter whom I regarded as a glamorous figure, an adventurer, although he was thought of as a hobo and a tramp by some of the others in the family.

The family had settled down in Frenchtown on the east side of Monument in Massachusetts along with hundreds of other French Canadians, living in the three-decker tenements and two-story houses, working in the shops producing combs and shirts and buttons, sending their children to St. Jude's Parochial School, and attending mass at St. Jude's Church on Sundays. They shopped every day in the stores on Fourth Street, although they made regular excursions to Monument Center, the downtown shopping district.

I was puzzled by the way the people of Frenchtown accepted the daily grind of the factories, week after week, year after year. My father, for instance. A handsome man who was quick to laugh, he enjoyed a great reputation as a ball

player in the Twilight Industrial League, swift and daring as a base runner and hitting dramatic home runs in the clutch. He danced the quadrilles at weddings with the same kind of quickness, whirling my mother around dizzyingly on the dance floor with whoops of delight while she hung on for dear life. The next morning he trudged his way back to the Monument Comb Shop, where he worked for forty-five years, enduring the layoffs, the lean years of the Depression, and the violence of the strikes.

My uncle Adelard escaped the shops-the daily drudgery and the layoffs and the walkouts-just as he had escaped the photographer's lens in Canada. That was why I felt a kinship with him. In that summer of 1938, I was thirteen years old, timid and shy and sometimes afraid of my own shadow. But in my heart I was brave and courageous like the cowboys in the Saturday afternoon serials at the Plymouth Theater. I felt that I, too, could become a hero if the opportunity presented itself or if I were tested. But there were no opportunities in Frenchtown. I longed to explore the outside world I saw in the movies or heard about on the radio or read about in books. Uncle Adelard was the only person outside my books and movies who had the dimensions of a hero, who dared to be different, who wandered the earth.

And that was why I hounded my father with questions whenever I got the chance. I waited while he listened to the radio and the news of Hitter gobbling up countries in Europe, felt guilty because the photograph was more important to me than the marching armies overseas. But this did not deter me from my purpose. I would gauge his disposition after he snapped off the radio, and if he seemed in a talkative mood, brought up the subject of the photograph.

Sipping the beer he brewed in the porcelain crocks in the cellar, smoking his Chesterfields, he often smiled in resignation and said: "Okay, what do you want to know?" As if I had never asked these questions before.

"Okay, it was a Sunday afternoon, right? And you were all on the front steps up in St. Jacques . . ."

"That's right," my father said, lighting another Chesterfield with a kitchen match scratched on his pants. "We were dressed in our Sunday best in shirts and ties and wool jackets. It was a hot summer afternoon so there was a lot of moving around, a lot of squirming."

"And Uncle Adelard was standing right beside you . . ."

"He sure was," he said. "It was impossible not to notice him. He was restless, refused to stand still. Until your Pèpére turned around and gave him a look. He could shrivel your bones with that look.

"So at last Adelard became quiet, although he still managed to give me a pinch, daring me to flinch or jump."

"And then what happened?"

"Well, nothing. The photographer, Mr. Archambault, snapped the picture when we were all settled down. Rosanna was a baby in your Mèmére's arms and had been fussing a bit. But she fell asleep, dozing nice and quiet. And, bang, the picture was taken."

"Now, tell me what happened when Mr. Archambault brought the picture to the house," I said.

The smell of celluloid clung to my father, a sweet acid smell that emanated not only from his clothes but from his skin as well, even when he emerged from a bath. It was the smell of the material from which combs and brushes were made at the shop. It was the smell of work, the smell of weariness, even the smell of danger because celluloid was highly flammable and sometimes spurted into flame without warning.

Sighing, he said:

"Well, when we looked at the photograph, there was no Adelard. Instead of Adelard, there was a blank space. He had disappeared. . . ."
Robert Cormier

About Robert Cormier

Robert Cormier - Fade

Photo © James Patrick Langlands

“I can’t remember a time, really, when I haven’t been a writer. . . . Reading and writing were the two great escapes of my life and I suppose they still are.”—Robert Cormier

Robert Cormier is a Margaret A. Edwards Award winner, and his books repeatedly appear on the best books lists of the American Library Association, The New York Times, and School Library Journal.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR



Robert Cormier (pronounced kor-MEER) lived all his life in Leominster, Massachusetts, a small town in the north-central part of the state, where he grew up as part of a close, warm community of French Canadian immigrants and lived with his wife, Connie, also from Leominster, and where they raised their three daughters and one son—all adults now. They never saw a reason to leave. “There are lots of untold stories right here on Main Street,” Cormier once said.

A newspaper reporter and columnist for 30 years (working for the Worcester Telegram and Gazette and the Fitchburg Sentinel), Cormier was often inspired by news stories. What makes his works unique is his ability to make evil behavior understandable, though, of course, still evil. “I’m very much interested in intimidation,” he told an interviewer from School Library Journal. “And the way people manipulate other people. And the obvious abuse of authority.” All of these themes are evident in his young adult classic and best-known book, The Chocolate War. A 15-year-old fan of Cormier’s told him, “You always write from inside the person.”

Cormier traveled the world, from Australia (where he felt particularly thrilled by putting his hand in the Indian Ocean) and New Zealand to most of the countries in Europe, speaking at schools, colleges, and universities, and to teacher and librarian associations. He visited nearly every state in the nation. While Cormier loved to travel, he said many times that he also loved returning to his home in Leominster.

Cormier was a practicing Catholic and attended parochial school, where in seventh grade, one of his teachers discovered his ability to write. But Cormier had always wanted to be a writer: “I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t trying to get something down on paper.” His first poems were published in the Leominster Daily Enterprise, and his first professional publication occurred while he was a freshman at Fitchburg State College. His professor, Florence Conlon, sent his short story, without his knowledge, to The Sign, a national Catholic magazine. The story, titled “The Little Things That Count,” sold for $75.

Cormier’s first work as a writer was at radio station WTAG in Worcester, MA, where he wrote scripts and commercials from 1946 to 1948. In 1948, he began his award-winning career as a newspaperman with the Worcester Telegram, first in its Leominster office and later in its Fitchburg office. He wrote a weekly human-interest column, “A Story from the Country,” for that newspaper.

In 1955, Cormier joined the staff of the Fitchburg Sentinel, which later became the Fitchburg-Leominster Sentinel and Enterprise, as the city hall and political reporter. He later served as wire and associate editor and wrote a popular twice-weekly column under the pseudonym John Fitch IV. The column received the national K.R. Thomason Award in 1974 as the best human-interest column written that year. That same year, he was honored by the New England Associated Press Association for having written the best news story under pressure of deadline. He left newspaper work in 1978 to devote all his time to writing.

Robert Cormier’s first novel, Now and at the Hour, was published in 1960. Inspired by his father’s death, the novel drew critical acclaim and was featured by Time magazine for five weeks on its “Recommended Reading” list. It was followed in 1963 by A Little Raw on Monday Mornings and in 1965 by Take Me Where the Good Times Are, also critically acclaimed. The author was hailed by the Newark Advocate as being “in the first rank of American Catholic novelists.”

In 1974, Cormier published The Chocolate War, the novel that is still a bestseller. Instantly acclaimed, it was also the object of censorship attempts because of its uncompromising realism. In a front-page review in a special children’s issue of The New York Times Book Review, it was described as “masterfully structured and rich in theme,” and it went on to win countless awards and honors, was taught in schools and colleges throughout the world, and was translated into more than a dozen languages. I Am the Cheese followed in 1977 and After the First Death in 1979.

These three books established Cormier as a master of the young adult novel. In 1991, the Young Adult Services Division of the American Library Association presented him with the Margaret A. Edwards Award, citing the trio of books as “brilliantly crafted and troubling novels that have achieved the status of classics in young adult literature.”

In 1982, Cormier was honored by the National Council of Teachers of English and its Adolescent Literature Assembly (ALAN) for his “significant contribution to the field of adolescent literature” and for his “innovative creativity.”

8 Plus 1, an anthology of short stories that have appeared in such publications as the Saturday Evening Post, The Sign, and Redbook, was published in 1980. In later years, many of the stories in the collection, notably “The Moustache,” “President Cleveland, Where Are You?” and “Mine on Thursdays,” appeared in anthologies and school textbooks. The collection also received the World of Reading Readers’ Choice Award, sponsored by Silver Burdett & Ginn, especially notable because young readers voted for Cormier to receive the prize.

I Have Words to Spend, a collection of his newspaper and magazine columns, was published in 1991, assembled and edited by his wife, Connie.

Robert Cormier’s other novels include The Bumblebee Flies Anyway, 1983; Beyond the Chocolate War, 1985; Fade, 1988; Other Bells for Us to Ring, 1990; We All Fall Down, 1991; Tunes for Bears to Dance To, 1992; In the Middle of the Night, 1995; Tenderness, 1997; Heroes, 1998; and Frenchtown Summer, 1999. Frenchtown Summer won the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Young Adult Fiction in April 2000. All his novels have won critical praise and honors.

In the Middle of the Night and Tenderness were short-listed for the Carnegie Medal in England, and Heroes received a “Highly Commended” citation for that same award, unique honors because the Carnegie Medal is traditionally awarded to a British book.

Cormier's novels have frequently come under attack by censorship groups because they are uncompromising in their depictions of the problems young people face each day in a turbulent world. Teachers and librarians have been quick to point out that his novels are eminently teachable, valuable, and moral. His novels are taught in hundreds of schools and in adolescent literature courses in colleges and universities.

Though many of his books are described as written for young adults, in fact people of all ages read and enjoy Cormier’s work. His themes of the ordinariness of evil and what happens when good people stand by and do nothing are treated seriously, and he never provides the easy comfort of a happy ending. Cormier’s gripping stories explore some of the darker corners of the human psyche, but always with a moral focus and a probing intelligence that compel readers to examine their own feelings and ethical beliefs.

In an interview, Cormier was asked if he had accomplished what he set out to do at the beginning of his writing career. He answered with characteristic humility: “Oh, yes. My dream was to be known as a writer and to be able to produce at least one book that would be read by people. That dream came true with the publication of my first novel–and all the rest has been a sweet bonus. All I’ve ever wanted to do, really, was to write.” His writing has left the world a legacy of wonderful books, a body of work that will endure.


PRAISE


BEYOND THE CHOCOLATE WAR
“Cormier is almost unique in his powerful integration of the personal, political, and moral.”—The New York Times Book Review


FADE
“Imagine what might happen if Holden Caulfield stepped into H. G. Wells’s The Invisible Man, and you’ll have an idea how good Fade is. . . . I was absolutely riveted.”—Stephen King


IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT
“Convincingly and enticingly complex.”—Starred, Kirkus Reviews

“One of the eeriest of Cormier's thrillers, this account of vengeance and obsession provides the brand of suspense that has earned him so many fans.”—Starred, Publishers Weekly

“Spectacular . . . unnerving and piercingly honest . . . it doesn’t end at the end.”—The New York Times Book Review

“From the very first page, readers will be caught up in the story.”—Booklist

“Superbly written, with characters well developed and a tight, fast-moving plot. . . . A must read.”—VOYA

“An intense and powerful exploration of the burdens of accusation and guilt.”—The Horn Book Magazine


HEROES
“Cormier is once again on top of his game. . . . His story will hold fans from first page to last.”—Starred, Publishers Weekly

“Powerful.”—Starred, VOYA

“[A] powerhouse novel . . . that will follow the reader long after the story has ended.”—Booklist

“Compelling . . . and thought-provoking.”—School Library Journal


OTHER BELLS FOR US TO RING
“Superbly crafted. . . . A provocative look at the meaning of belief.”—Starred, Kirkus Reviews


TENDERNESS
“Cormier is in top form in this chilling portrait of a serial murderer. . . . [A] gripping tale.”—Starred, School Library Journal

“A mesmerizing plunge into the mind of a psychopathic teen killer that is both deeply disturbing and utterly compelling.”—Focus Review, Booklist

“The novel has a wealth of depth and complexity . . . Cormier’s best yet.”—The Book Report

“Vivid characterizations. . . . Cormier performs literary magic by making us empathize with these two teenagers who live at society’s far edges.”—VOYA

“Suspenseful and chilling. . . . Vintage Cormier: short pithy sentences and bends in the text take the reader along startling paths.”—The Horn Book Magazine

Awards

Awards

NOMINEE 1990 Colorado Blue Spruce Young Adult Book Award

  • Fade by Robert Cormier
  • September 14, 2004
  • Juvenile Fiction - Social Situations
  • Delacorte Books for Young Readers
  • $7.99
  • 9780385731348

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