Finding Lubchenko by Michael Simmons is a recent young adult novel (Razorbill, 2005). I personally think that it should be sub-titled "Ferris Bueller Goes to Paris." The main character, Evan, is a smart-aleck troublemaker who lures his nerdy best friend, Ruben, into trouble. Ruben and Evan end up skipping town to go to Paris for a week, accompanied by the lovely Erika, where they have many adventures. Ruben and Evan's backgrounds are backwards from Ferris and Cameron's (from the movie Ferris Bueller's Day Off). Evan has the difficult, strict father who yells all the time, while Ruben has the liberal, lenient parents who don't notice what's going on right in front of their eyes. However, reading the dialog between Evan and Ruben, as Evan basically bullies Ruben into getting into dangerous situations, made me think of Ferris Bueller over and over again.
Finding Lubchenko is actually a mystery/thriller. Sixteen-year-old Evan is called to the principals's office one day to hear the news that his wealthy father has been arrested for murder. The fact that his straight-laced, Lutheran father could have actually committed the murder is never a serious possibility. However, Evan's own shady activities (stealing from his father's biotech firm) put him in a difficult bind. He has the evidence to free his father, but to share this evidence with the FBI will surely get Evan and Ruben into deep trouble. Evan decides instead to find evidence regarding who really committed the murder. This requires a trip to Paris (charged to Dad's credit card), and a somewhat dangerous investigation following the path of a real killer.
Despite the presence of a murderer, and the extremely dysfunctional relationship between Evan and his Dad, this is a relatively light novel. Evan's voice, expressed in first person, is entertaining and smart-alecky. The book is peppered with brief tangents illustrating Evan's relationship with his Dad, Evan's unrequited love of Erika, Evan's insecurities, and the teen night life in Paris. Most of these asides contribute to the development of Evan's character, and particularly illustrate his relationship with his widowed father.
I found Finding Lubchenko to be a fast-paced, enjoyable adventure, with an engaging teen voice. I will keep my eyes open for other books by Michael Simmons.
© 2009 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved.