Chasing the Bear
Robert B. Parker
Philomel, May 2009, $17.99
Spenser and Susan are talking while watching the swan boats in the Boston Public Gardens as she wants to know more about what he was like growing up. His mother died giving birth to him, so he lived with his father and two uncles. The three men taught him to box and know right from wrong, which he realized early on may not always be legal.
Jeanne is his first friend and she tells him how much she hates her father because he is an ugly drunk who beats up her and her mom. One day Jeanne calls out to fourteen year old Spenser from her father‘s truck asking him for help. He follows them and separates her from her dad. The drunk gives chase, but with a little help he dies in his attempt. Spencer tells the police before returning home.
Spenser knows when to fight and when to take flight. He refuses to help the Anglo boys beat up Mexicans so the bullies challenge him, but Jeanne gets his family to the fight sight. When the Mexicans decide to fight, Spenser refuses to join them but also hides his information from the Anglos. Susan can see the teen roots of the present day Spenser.
The same qualities that Spenser has as an adult can be seen as a teen because he does not care about one’s race but instead the person. His Boy Scout tendency to help someone in need comes through loud and clear, especially his disinterest with rewards and accolades. Targeting young adults, Robert B. Parker provides insight into what shaped his hero, a role model of get involved.