Overall Grade: B+
So, I actually finished up with it last week, but hadn't gotten around to posting about it. The things I'd initially commented on (slightly flat characters, etc.) evened out, and they became more lively as the story went on. Dave's dad was still a grump, but a grump with a heart. He's a lawyer, and eventually helps out Dave's friend Tom. Dave's mom moves beyond her asthma to show some quiet strength and a kindly heart.
Dave and his friend Nick have a falling out over a double date gone wrong, which brings Tom and Mary, Dave's future girlfriend, into his life. Mary is a nice girl, with interesting parents: her dad is a philosophy professor, and her mom, Nina, is a Beatnik. (I think if this were written today, she'd be called a Hipster).
Tom is described in the book's blurb as "troubled", and I suppose that by 1964's standards, Tom is a troubled lad, but I didn't find him so much troubled as just flailing around trying to find his footing after parental abandonment.His father was rather an ass to him, which leads to him getting kicked out of college (he's several years older than Dave) and trying to make it on his own. When Dave first meets Tom, Tom is trying to break into a storage area of Dave's apartment building, just to show that he can on a dare. The two eventually become friends.
Cat is a constant presence in Dave's life. When Cat gets bashed up in a fight, Dave takes him to the vet to be fixed up--and at the vet's insistence--fixed. This doesn't wholly cure Cat of the urge to fight and roam, but it does illustrate Dave's genuine love for his pet, which pleased me.
The book ends on a positive note, with Tom (who eventually found himself a good job and with the help of Dave's father, found his way back into school) and his girlfriend announcing their engagement. That bit had seemed a little sudden to me, since Tom's relationship with her is very much in the background. Also, it was a different time then: young people right out of school often did marry and start families. Everyone praises Cat, because had he not been skulking about in the storage area, leading Dave to meet Tom, things might have happened out very differently.
I gave the book an end rating of B+. Except for a few flaws here and there, it was engaging and interesting, and offered a view of life from 45 years ago (who knew there were kid's sections in the movie theaters? Not me!) that I found interesting.