Secret City, U.S.A.

Felice Holman, Author
Felice Holman, Author Scribner Book Company $14.95 (0p) ISBN 978-0-684-19168-3
Reviewed on: 03/31/1990
Release date: 04/01/1990
When 13-year-old Benno and his friend Moon wander out of the barrio and into a deserted strip of the city, they find a huge ``stet cap? ec Space'' to explore. The boys clean up a dilapidated house and make it into a shelter for a few of the neighborhood's homeless children. Then a mix-up with the police and a drug gang capture the attention of the media. The boys become a cause c el ebre , paving the way--almost miraculously--for city ordinances that allow homeless people to homestead deserted spaces. Though deeply felt and full of solid characterization, this novel is not as strong as Holman's Slake's Limbo. Perhaps because of the constant phonetic spelling-out of the children's accents, or the overly facile solutions to their problems, the final effect, when all the boys have a real home, seems unsatisfying, as if the ``real world'' and real solutions weren't enough. Ages 10-14. (Apr.)
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