Monday, January 19, 2004

33 Snowfish--Adam Rapp

I recently read 33 Snowfish by Adam Rapp. I have it in the YA section, which covers 7-12th grades. It's not a middle school read, but I'd give it to a mature 8th grader I knew could handle it. The story is told from three different perspectives--Custis, roughly 9-11 years old, homeless, abused, racist; Curl, 14 years old (if I remember right. The book is checked out!), drug-addicted prostitute; Boobie, I think he's 15 or 16, psychotic, brooding, obsessed with fire. All three are on the lam--Boobie's parents are violently killed (the implication is Boobie is the culprit but he never actually admits it), and Boobie takes his infant brother and flees with his two friends. They put the baby in a broken TV so if anyone looks in their stolen car they'll think it's just a TV and not a kid. Their goal is to get away from the cops and to sell the baby. Curl is in love with Boobie, and they both watch out for Custis. While on the lam, they get stuck in a blizzard and Curl's drug addiction gets the best of her. She dies, Boobie can't handle it and leaves. Custis is left in a van with the baby and no food or warmth. In an ironic twist, the racist little boy is saved by an older black man and the two children go to live with him in the woods. After a period of adjustment he finds the love and stability and family he needs, and fills a hole in the black man's life as well.

This is not an easy read. It's dark and disturbing, but many kids have dark and disturbing lives. It ends on a positive note, and as unbelieving as it sounds, it actually is a "family-values" book. It has a positive message about the strength of a good family, and that families don't need to be based on blood. There's strong language and sexual abuse, but most teens (9th grade and up) are familiar with such language and themes. Anyone who works closely with teens knows the language they use! It's on YALSA's Best Books for Young Adults list this year and could have won the Printz Award.

Just Finished Reading: Some really bad poetry
Reading: Rules of Attraction--Ellis
On My Nightstand: Same as before!

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