Harmon, Michael 1969-
Harmon, Michael 1969-
Born 1969, in Los Angeles, CA; married; wife's name Kimberly; children: a daughter and son. Hobbies and other interests: Backpacking, fishing, woodworking, shooting, and building skateboard and snowboarding ramps for his kids.
Home—Spokane, WA. E-mail—[email protected]
Skate (young adult novel), Knopf (New York, NY), 2006.
Michael Harmon is a high school dropout and writer whose first novel, Skate, draws on Harmon's own rebellious youth. "You'll find a theme of self-reliance in every book I write, and it's a very tricky thing to portray without bagging on school," the author writes on his home page. The author went on to note: "I look back at all the things I did that hurt me, and I still feel the pain. But why did I do them?" As for his first novel, the author writes: "So I wrote Skate about self-reliance. About making decisions based on Ian [a character in the book], not the world. Not based around the hated teacher, jerk principal, control freak coach or dysfunctional parent. I write about believing in oneself, because I know that once you do, all those stupid rules might still be stupid, but guess what? The bitterness over them fades."
Skate tells the story of Ian, who is fifteen and, like the author during his youth, a rebel who has little time for school or authority figures. Ian also has other problems, including a mother on drugs who may lose Ian and his little brother Sammy. Ian decides to take Sammy with him when he runs off after breaking the jaw of one of the coaches at school. The book follows the brothers as they decide to search for their father, who left the family just before Sammy was born. Critics generally praised the author's depiction of Ian. Jennifer Mattson, writing in Booklist, noted that the author "compellingly renders wary, brittle Ian, particularly the tension between his admirable motivations and his self-destructive impulses." In a review in the School Library Journal, Shannon Seglin likewise wrote: "The author has created a main character who is confident and tragic." A Kirkus Reviews contributor called Skate a "marvelous debut."
Harmon told CA: "My interest in writing began as a tremendous avenue to vent my anger while in high school. Poetry, short stories, and journal entries littered my bedroom. As I grew older and found success where I hadn't in high school, my passion for writing remained, though it became more tempered and introspective about the circumstance I had been in as a teen.
"The effect I hope my books have is multi-faceted, really. I hope that the teenagers who read my work can relate to the truth of them, or gain understanding and compassion for their counterparts who do. I wish for parents to read my work and talk with their children about the different aspects and social situations included. And lastly, I would like for teachers and administrators to read what their students are reading to gain more perspective on why so many teens feel the way they do."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, November 15, 2006, Jennifer Mattson, review of Skate, p. 59.
Kirkus Reviews, September 1, 2006, review of Skate, p. 905.
School Library Journal, December, 2006, Shannon Seglin, review of Skate, p. 143.
Skipping Stones, January-February, 2007, review of Skate, p. 34.
Michael Harmon Home Page,http://www.booksbyharmon.com (March 21, 2007), includes interviews with author.