Stetson has a dream. He's been rebuilding an old Honda Civic working at a salvage yard, and designing T-shirts to help pay for food and parts. As long as Stet avoids his abusive, alcoholic father, he considers himself lucky. His car, his art, and a high school diploma are his tickets out of their factory town. Then his father brings home Kayla-a younger sister Stet never knew he had. His mother had been pregnant when she left, but told no one; now she's dead, and Kayla has nowhere else to go. Can these two wary siblings find anything in common, and try to build a future together?
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Grade 9 & Up--Stetson is living a life on the edge. He places bets at school in order to buy food because his alcoholic father spends all of his money at the local bar. His mother has been gone for years. The teen is on the verge of being suspended from school. Then he arrives home one day to find a 14-year-old inside, explaining that she has nowhere else to go because their mother has just died. It turns out that his mother was pregnant when she left, and that he has a sister. Stetson must now teach her how to fend for herself in a trailer with a verbally abusive, often-absent father. Rottman tackles many social issues from the perspective of a socially outcast 17-year-old who has raised himself and has only one real friend. The writing can be repetitive, but this may be a consequence of the narrator's humdrum attitude toward life. The story is told mainly through dialogue, and readers may sometimes find themselves confused about who is speaking. Also, the author repeats that Stetson is an artist, though there is little evidence of this. Rottman leaves readers with the hope that her protagonist will be able to succeed on his own but also with the nagging feeling that he just may psych himself out of his success. Nevertheless, teens will be cheering him on to the end.
Delia Fritz, Mercersburg Academy, PA
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
Gr. 6-12. Despite a mother who abandoned him and a bitter, alcoholic father, Stetson still dreams of becoming the first in his family to finish high school. When a sister he didn't even know about unexpectedly moves in, Stetson finds his troubles compounded by her drinking and her knowledge about his mother, whose loss Stetson has never dealt with. In chapter one, Stetson's prank against a likable teacher is so cruel (and implausible) that it will take readers a while to buy into the boy's subsequent good intentions and general integrity. Over time, however, Stetson proves himself to be a stellar character whose friendship with crusty salvage yard boss Jason allows him to face some truths about his shortcomings and determine a direction for his life. Emphasis on dialogue carries the reader quickly through those chapters that lack dramatic punch, and an interesting twist concerning a minor character adds spark to the steadily paced story line. Roger Leslie
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