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Following Fake Man


Following Fake Man

written by Barbara Ware Holmes, illustrated by Sarah Hokanson

If there's one thing that everyone goes through during adolescence, it's a search for self. Sometimes, however, you can’t discover who you are without learning about the past. This is the case in Barbara Ware Holmes's novel, FOLLOWING FAKE MAN.

Homer Winthrop, his mother, and their housekeeper Madeleine are traveling to Maine for part of the summer. Homer has never been to Maine before; or, at least he doesn’t remember being there. But on the trip up from Boston, where they live, Homer's mother reveals to him that they have indeed been there before. They are actually returning to a house they lived in when Homer was a baby and his father was still alive.
Homer’s father, the first Homer Winthrop, died when his son was just two years old. A great mystery surrounded his death. Homer’s mother never talked about his father. Whenever he tried to ask about him, his mother gave sketchy answers with no detail. All Homer knew about his father was that he was a neurologist who died of a neurological disease.  
When they arrive in Maine, Homer makes friends with a boy his own age, Roger. Roger tells him about Fake Man, a man who obviously goes around in a disguise and who travels to nearby Owl Island every day carrying a cardboard carton. The boys decide that Fake Man is hiding something illegal and start following him. This leads them to a dilapidated cabin in the woods, which the locals say is haunted. When Roger’s mother, the town librarian, finds out that Roger has told Homer about the “Spookety Cabin,” she quickly tells him not to bring Homer there, but won’t tell him why. This, of course, just adds to the mystery that the boys feel they must solve.
Not everything is as straightforward as it seems. When Fake Man actually confronts Homer, telling him he knows he's being followed and demanding to know why, a secret is revealed that will change Homer’s perspective on everything.
Barbara Ware Holmes has done an excellent job of providing different perspectives by writing in various voices. Homer is the main voice, but you also hear from Madeleine, Dr. Winthrop, and Roger. Roger’s comments are presented in the form of a comic book --- he draws images of Elvis to represent himself, and at times, a chicken evolving into a hero to show Homer. While this book might confuse some younger readers, older kids will be able to understand the conflicts presented and enjoy discovering the secret about Homer’s father.

Reviewed by Debbie Ann Weiner on May 8, 2001

Following Fake Man
written by Barbara Ware Holmes, illustrated by Sarah Hokanson

  • Publication Date: May 8, 2001
  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
  • ISBN-10: 0375812660
  • ISBN-13: 9780375812668