Thumbsucker (novel)

Thumbsucker (novel)

infobox Book |
name = Thumbsucker
title_orig =
translator =

image_caption = First edition cover
author = Walter Kirn
cover_artist =
country = United States
language = English
series =
genre = Novel
publisher = Bantam Doubleday Dell
release_date = November 1999
media_type = Print (Hardback & Paperback)
pages = 300 pp (hardback edition)
isbn = ISBN 0-385-49709-1 (hardback edition)
preceded_by =
followed_by =

"Thumbsucker" is a 1999 novel by Walter Kirn. It was adapted into a film of the same name by Mike Mills in 2005.

Plot introduction

Kirn's novel tells the story of Justin Cobb, a Minnesota teenager whose family experiences a broad spectrum of dysfunction. Father Mike is a washed-up college football star with a militaristic and unemotional attitude inspired by his former coach. Mother Audrey, a nurse, is struggling to accept how her life has wound down. Younger brother Joel simply does everything he can to fit in and seem normal.

Amidst pressures to stop sucking his thumb, 14 year old Justin turns to unorthodox dentist Perry Lyman who attempts to use hypnosis to remedy the problem with no success. Justin's condition is 'identified' as attention deficiency disorder by his school and he is consequently prescribed Ritalin. The drug appears to cure his immediate problem of thumb sucking but this is merely a stop-gap whilst Justin's (and indeed his family's) real problems remain at large. When Justin gives up Ritalin he turns to drugs (pot) and sex to combat his problems.

Coming of age tale touching on the raw emotions experienced during this time and the wider concepts of identity and existentialism.

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