Don’t Trust the Pez

The Thing in the Pool by Carol James Marshall is a 38-page short story that I bought for USD 0.99 on Amazon after I read it for free from another giveaway site. I bought it so this review would be a verified purchase. I liked the way the story was told from many different points of view. Edger tells a story from the point of view of an eighth-grader when he is facing the world and his classmates as an eighth grader. This is his exterior, sometimes phony, point of view. There are interior monologues going on as he describes his true feelings about his classmates and himself to himself. This is his honest-with-himself point of view. Other points of view appear. Edger imagines himself as his father in the present and makes value judgments about his own behavior. Would his father approve? Same with his mother. Then he imagines himself as a father in the future. How would he interact with a son who is amazingly similar to the present day Edger?

Confused yet? We haven’t even gotten to the story. This is a fun read just with exploring the inside of Edger’s head. The inside of Edger’s head is a very busy place. Edger is a son almost too good to believe. It seems he never argues with his parents openly. He puts up with his mom’s overly solicitous, constantly worrying, mom-like behavior. He seems to be almost a pal with his dad. He doesn’t bother them too much with his biggest wish. He wants to move. There are too many teachers living in his neighborhood. A new one had just moved in next door, just prior to his first day of eighth grade. It was fitting that her name was Pez because she looked like one of the candy dispensers. She also looked unfriendly. He was hoping for a neighbor with kids so he could be invited to use the pool. No such luck. The Pez had neither spouse, partner, or kids.

Edger’s bedroom window had a view of the Pez Pool. There was never anything to see but there were some disturbing noises in the early morning hours when Edger liked to sleep. They didn’t bother him every night but enough so that he wanted to know the source of the noises that seemed to come from the swirling water he could see. He couldn’t see what was in the water and wasn’t sure he wanted to know. Everything would have gone along fine if not for Alice, a classmate, and a girl. Edger didn’t like to talk to any classmate but if he wanted to talk to one, it wouldn’t be a girl.

Alice was also a neighbor; this was new information for Edger. She could also almost see the Pez Pool. She too had heard the noises but she did not have the clear view from her bedroom window that Edger had. She could see Edger’s window clearly, yet another thing for Edger to worry about. Was she spying on him? Alice was definitely annoying him as she demanded that Edger work with her to identify the noise and see what was making the water turbulent during the early morning hours. Edger reluctantly joined her plan to sneak out of their houses and get close enough to Pez Place to discover the truth. As Alice said, their lives depended on it.

She was almost right.

There is a generous amount of understated humor throughout the story. Were we this weird in the eighth grade? Read this story to make an informed decision. I gave this four Amazon stars

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