Klass, David 1960-
Klass, David 1960-
Born March 8, 1960, in VT; son of Morton (an anthropology professor) and Sheila (a writer and English professor) Klass; married Giselle Benatar; children: two, including Gabriel. Education: Yale University, B.A, 1982; University of Southern California, School of Cinema-Television, M.A, 1989.
Novelist and screenwriter. Worked as an English teacher. Director of the film Shelter in the Storm (also known as Small Town Proud), 1987. Serves on the board of Save Our Youth.
Writers Guild of America West.
Fiction for Young Adults Award, Southern California Council, 1990, for Wrestling with Honor.
The Atami Dragons, Scribner (New York, NY), 1984.
Breakaway Run, E.P. Dutton (New York, NY), 1986.
A Different Season, E.P. Dutton (New York, NY), 1988.
Wrestling with Honor, E.P. Dutton (New York, NY), 1989.
Night of the Tyger, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 1990.
Samuri, Inc, Fawcett (New York, NY), 1992.
California Blue, Scholastic (New York, NY), 1994.
Danger Zone, Scholastic (New York, NY), 1995.
Screen Test, Scholastic, (New York, NY), 1997.
You Don't Know Me: A Novel, Frances Foster Books (New York, NY), 2001.
Home of the Braves, Farrar, Straus (New York, NY), 2002, HarperTempest (New York, NY), 2004.
Dark Angel, Farrar, Straus and Giroux (New York, NY), 2005, HarperTeen (New York, NY), 2007, Thorndike Press (Waterville, ME), 2007.
"THE CARETAKER" TRILOGY
Firestorm, Frances Foster Books (New York, NY), 2006, Thorndike Press (Waterville, ME), 2007.
Whirlwind, Farrar Straus and Giroux (New York, NY), 2008.
Also author of screenplays, including Kiss the Girls, 1997; Desperate Measures, 1998; and Walking Tall, 2004; author of teleplays, including Runaway Virus, 2000, and In the Time of Butterflies, 2001.
The film rights for Firestorm have been bought by Warner Bros. Pictures.
A Kirkus Reviews contributor described David Klass's contribution to young adult literature as being sports fiction "enriched" with "perceptive explorations of character and social themes." Klass's characters find themselves confronting the implications of issues ranging from feminism to environmentalism, in contexts that are very familiar to many young adults—the playing field or competitive arena. While critics have lauded Klass's attention to detail and the evocative narratives in his sports scenes, many have also noted his complex presentation of social issues and his ability to avoid sentimentality in discussing personal traumas like divorce or the loss of a parent.
Breakaway Run, one of Klass's first novels, was written with the insight he gained as an English teacher working in a Japanese high school. It begins when Tony Ross leaves his quarreling parents to study for five months in Atami, Japan. Tony initially finds adjusting to the ways of his host family and Japanese culture difficult; he is frustrated by his inability to communicate with others and disturbed by the way he is treated as an outsider. Gradually, however, Tony's personal qualities and his athletic abilities (especially in soccer) earn him the respect and affection of his host family and schoolmates. He even manages to cope with and adjust to the news that his parents are divorcing. According to Stephanie Zvirin in Booklist, Klass includes details about the sports Tony plays, and his "portrayal of Japanese culture and customs" demonstrates "obvious respect and knowledge."
Like Breakaway Run, The Atami Dragons also features a young male protagonist who leaves trouble at home when he goes to Japan. Jerry Sanders has just lost his mother, and he decides to accompany his father and sister on a business trip to Japan for the summer. As he sacrifices the opportunity to play baseball in the United States when he leaves for Japan, Jerry jumps at the chance to play baseball in Japan. He makes new friends, experiences baseball in another culture, and begins to come to terms with his mother's death. As Booklist contributor Zvirin noted, Klass brings "equal shares of humor, sports, and sentiment" to this story of loss and recovery.
According to a Kirkus Reviews critic, Klass presents "another thoughtful, expertly crafted story" with A Different Season. In this novel, the protagonist does not enjoy baseball in another culture, but he does experience cultural pressure to transform his favorite sport. Jim Roark, known to everyone as "Streak," is a talented pitcher who finds himself attracted to Jennifer Douglas, another outstanding athlete. When Jennifer attempts to join the baseball team, however, Jim insists that girls and women have no business playing baseball, and the teens' relationship suffers.
As critics have noted, Klass uses the debate between Jim and Jennifer, and the public debate that ensues, to present arguments for and against the integration of sports teams. Jennifer is finally allowed to join the team, and although its final game is not successful, Jennifer and Jim learn to respect their differences of opinion. "Klass writes with precision and grace about baseball," asserted Hazel Rochman in Booklist. A Publishers Weekly contributor appreciated Klass's decision not to "resolve the book's central conflict" and to let readers "draw their own conclusions."
Wrestling with Honor takes up the issue of drug testing. Ron Woods, an honor student, Eagle Scout, and captain of the wrestling team, never expected that the mandatory drug test he had to take would demonstrate positive for marijuana use. Although Ron is not a drug user and realizes that the test results must be a mistake, he refuses to take another test to clear his name because he believes the tests violate his right to privacy. Ron is subsequently banned from his team, and his relationships with his teammates, family, and girlfriend deteriorate. Before the novel ends, however, he explores his feelings about the death of his father in the Vietnam war, discovers why his drug test was positive, and confronts his fiercest wrestling competitor. Readers "will be cheering all the way through [the novel's] exciting—if manipulated—final scene," wrote a critic in Publishers Weekly.
Klass focuses on environmentalism in California Blue, a novel that a Kirkus Reviews contributor suggested is Klass's "best yet." The father-and-son story revolves around a boy finding a rare butterfly that may lead to a movement to close the lumber mill where his father works. The conflict between the boy, John, and his father is intensified by the fact that each has always disagreed with the other about the relative merits of athleticism and intellectualism, and John's father may be dying from leukemia. A Publishers Weekly contributor noted that Klass has written a "beautifully rendered novel" and "handles [the] complex situations with grace and subtlety."
Fans of Klass's young adult novels may also enjoy Danger Zone, a story about a young basketball player. When Jimmy Doyle joins a "Teen Dream" basketball team which will compete in an international tournament in Rome, he finds that he must battle prejudice and racism as well as his competitors.
Klass's next novel, Screen Test, features sixteen-year-old Liz, who is spotted by a Hollywood producer when she appears in a student film. The novel follows Liz as she goes to Hollywood and must deal with a new world in which the values of her hometown seem not only old-fashioned but completely forgotten. Ilene Cooper, writing in Booklist, noted that the author "does some nice things with his characters, especially giving voice to their different life experiences."
In You Don't Know Me: A Novel, fourteen-year-old John narrates his own story of withdrawal from life. Part of the reasons for John's withdrawal is the violence he suffers at home and elsewhere. The story follows John as he begins to come out of his shell, getting over his crush on the beautiful but unlikable Gloria and turning to Violet, a likable, grounded girl. Noting that "the narrative bounces between comic and serious elements," Joel Shoemaker, writing in the School Library Journal, also commented that the novel contains "a rewarding and important message for all readers." Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy contributor Tshegofatso Mmolawa wrote: "You Don't Know Me is multilayered but presents the complex life of an understandably angst-ridden adolescent in an enlightening and humorous way."
A Brazilian soccer prodigy named Antonio Silva arrives at an American high school in Klass's Home of the Braves. While local boy and high school senior Joe has relished his role as captain of the school's mediocre soccer team, he must now deal with Antonio stealing his limelight (and his girlfriend). Joe finds that he is jealous even though the soccer team is now winning. In a subplot, Joe's friend Ed the Mouse is planning a horrible revenge for those who have bullied him. Paula Rohrlick, writing in Kliatt, noted that "the tale of Joe's gradual, hard-won maturation and moral dilemmas becomes as involving as the sports action." Booklist contributor Todd Morning referred to Home of the Braves as "a winning novel with many elements that will ring true for older readers."
Dark Angel tells the story of Jeff, a seventeen-year-old living in the small and idyllic town of Pineville. Jeff's older brother, Troy, was sentenced to prison for life at age sixteen for killing a classmate in the old town where Jeff and his brother used to live. When news arrives that Troy is being released, Jeff must deal with the fact that he believes his brother was guilty of the murder even though Troy maintains his innocence while keeping a humble façade. "Mystery fans will enjoy this book's fast-paced story line," wrote Melanie Toledo in Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy. She further stated: "The plot instantly grabs the reader's attention and does not let go." A Kirkus Reviews contributor called the novel "sinister and thought-provoking."
In Firestorm, the first book of Klass's projected "The Caretaker" trilogy, the author presents a science-fiction tale in which seventeen-year-old Jack Danielson soon finds that he is not like everyone else but has unique powers because he is actually sent from the future on a mission to save the world. Soon others from the future are after him and kill his adoptive parents, leaving Jack to rely on the dog Gisco—who speaks telepathically—and a ninja girl named Eko to help him. "The relentless pace … makes for a thrilling and memorable read," wrote Melissa Moore in the School Library Journal. Booklist's Krista Hurley noted that "Jack's surprising fate will leave readers waiting eagerly for the second installment."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklinks, May 1, 2006, Rebecca Hogue Wojahn, review of Home of the Braves, p. 48.
Booklist, December 1, 1984, Stephanie Zvirin, review of The Atami Dragons, p. 518; August, 1987, Stephanie Zvirin, review of Breakaway Run, pp. 1737-1738; January 1, 1988, Hazel Rochman, review of A Different Season, p. 775; November 15, 1988, review of Wrestling with Honor, p. 567; July, 1992, Ellen R. Paterson, review of Wrestling with Honor, p. 1933; March 1, 1994, Mary Harris Veeder, review of California Blue, p. 1252; December 1, 1997, Ilene Cooper, review of Screen Test, p. 615; March 1, 2001, Michael Cart, review of You Don't Know Me: A Novel, p. 1271; March 15, 2002, review of You Don't Know Me, p. 1228; September 1, 2002, Todd Morning, review of Home of the Braves, p. 127; September 15, 2005, Holly Koelling, review of Dark Angel, p. 58; September 15, 2006, Krista Hurley, review of Firestorm, p. 55.
Book Report, November 1, 1997, Shirley Zimmer, review of Screen Test, p. 36.
Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, March 1, 1998, review of Screen Test, p. 248; February 1, 2001, review of You Don't Know Me, p. 227; December 1, 2002, review of Home of the Braves, p. 162; November 1, 2005, Deborah Stevenson, review of Dark Angel, p. 141; October 1, 2006, Cindy Welch, review of Firestorm, p. 79.
Daily Variety, July 14, 2006, "Warners Fans ‘Firestorm,’" p. 5.
Horn Book Magazine, July 1, 2001, Anita L. Burkam, review of You Don't Know Me, p. 455; January 1, 2003, review of Home of the Braves, p. 77.
Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, March 1, 1998, review of Screen Test, p. 496; October 1, 2001, Tshegofatso Mmolawa, review of You Don't Know Me, p. 172; November 1, 2003, review of You Don't Know Me, p. 217; November 1, 2005, Melanie Toledo, review of Dark Angel, p. 249.
Kirkus Reviews, November 1, 1987, review of A Different Season, p. 1576; February 15, 1994, review of California Blue; October 1, 2002, review of Home of the Braves, p. 1473; September 15, 2005, review of Dark Angel, p. 1029; May 15, 2006, review of Firestorm, p. 22.
Kliatt, September 1, 2002, Claire Rosser, review of You Don't Know Me, p. 20; November 1, 2002, Paula Rohrlick, review of Home of the Braves, p. 11; May 1, 2004, Paula Rohrlick, review of Home of the Braves, p. 20; September 1, 2005, Paula Rohrlick, review of Dark Angel, p. 9; September 1, 2006, Paula Rohrlick, review of Firestorm, p. 14.
Library Media Connection, March 1, 2003, review of Home of the Braves, p. 78.
Publishers Weekly, November 27, 1987, review of A Different Season, p. 86; September 30, 1988, review of Wrestling with Honor, p. 71; February 14, 1994, review of California Blue, p. 90; September 29, 1997, review of Screen Test, p. 90; March 12, 2001, review of You Don't Know Me, p. 92; August 5, 2002, review of You Don't Know Me, p. 75; October 14, 2002, review of Home of the Braves, p. 85; January 9, 2006, review of Dark Angel, p. 55; October 9, 2006, review of Firestorm, p. 57.
School Librarian, winter, 2001, review of You Don't Know Me; spring, 2004, "The Braves."
School Library Journal, October 1, 1997, Marilyn Heath, review of Screen Test, p. 134; March 1, 2001, Joel Shoemaker, review of You Don't Know Me, p. 252; September 1, 2002, Joanne K. Cecere, review of Home of the Braves, p. 226; August 1, 2004, Jo-Ann Carhart, review of You Don't Know Me, p. 78; October 1, 2005, Johanna Lewis, review of Dark Angel, p. 164; September 1, 2006, Melissa Moore, review of Firestorm, p. 209; October 1, 2006, review of Firestorm, p. 74.
Times Educational Supplement, November 9, 2001, review of You Don't Know Me, p. 20.
Voice of Youth Advocates, June 1, 2001, review of You Don't Know Me, p. 123; October 1, 2002, review of Home of the Braves, p. 280; October 1, 2005, review of Dark Angel, p. 305; February 1, 2007, review of Dark Angel, p. 487.
Writing!, November 1, 2003, Don Gallo, "‘Just Trusting My Instincts’: A Conversation with David Klass," p. 21.
Farrar, Straus and Giroux Books for Young Readers,http://www.fsgkidsbooks.com/ (July 2, 2007), brief profile of a author.
International Movie Database,http://www.imdb.com/ (July 2, 2007), information on author's film work.
Reading Matters,http://www.readingmatters.co.uk/ (July 2, 2007), review of You Don't Know Me.
Teenreads.com,http://www.teenreads.com/ (July 2, 2007), Kate Torpie, review of You Don't Know Me.