Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Almost Home by Jessica Blank

Holy cats, can this woman write! The prose was jaw-droppingly good, sheer poetry in every other line, the kind of writing that you don't typically see "wasted" on teen lit. And I'm sure it's got teen appeal -- it's the story of several runaways in the streets of L.A., and is told in several chapterless chunks, each one told in the distinctively different voice of each of the characters. It is mean and gritty and harsh and chillingly candid (I cringed at the 12-year-old who ends up strung out and stuck doing porn). But it is beautiful and real and addresses an important issue, complete with a list of resources for runaways in the back of the book. A must and a big YAY for me.


At January 23, 2008 at 6:03 AM , Blogger Anne Keller said...

Totally agree! I won't forget this novel for a long while. Writing is awesome. Each chapter is told from one of the runaway's viewpoint. Really for older teens. I hope Scabius got what was coming to him even though he was looking at it in terms of survival. Ending has hope. Yay for me all the way.

At February 2, 2008 at 8:44 AM , Blogger kathy said...

Almost Home shows a harsh reality that I wish didn't exist. Gritty, ugly, painful. What happened to Eeyore's dad who taught her all the flowers' names? Why couldn't she go to him about the bullying or the worse things happening at home? Runaways, sexual abuse and predators, pornography, drugs and desperate survival do need to appear in teen literature to provoke discussion, and maybe even prevent such situations from happening. I don't want it to be in the top 20 because I don't want it to be real. But it is. Writing is good, feels consistent. The only chapter I was confused with switching voices as Scabius'. It took me a bit to change perspective, why do I want to know what he's thinking? I think Anne's right about his methods and drive for survival.


At February 3, 2008 at 6:29 AM , Blogger Iris said...

Melvin Burgess liked this book. I knew in my heart that he would. I found it predictable and depressing, but this is probably because I can look up from my desk at work and see desperate teenagers any time I please: why bother reading a book that meanders through broken lives with little vignettes about hook-ups, shoot-ups, break-ups, and fallouts . Its realistic teenage life without the houses to go home to at night.

I think the book was very good a showing what a tiny space these characters take up in the fabric of a big ugly city. The lives of these kids is so minute: they skitter along the fringe, and they die young. The ending is open: maybe it works, maybe it doesn't, but the rest of them are all goners.

I'm giving this a Maybe because all the jumping around didn't hold my attention very well.. i kept skipping through to the parts where Eeyore shows up again, looking for sick and deluded than ever. I felt like she was the least realistic character in the story, but I still wanted to know what happened to her. The rest I had trouble caring about.


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