cover image The Other Way Around

The Other Way Around

Sashi Kaufman. Carolrhoda Lab, $17.99 (288p) ISBN 978-1-4677-0262-1

Life with an uninvolved father and a perpetually disappointed, workaholic mother makes Andrew West feel like he’s “disappearing little by little,” but it never occurred to him to actually disappear. After a disastrous Thanks-giving, 16-year-old Andrew heads to the bus station with plans to visit his grandmother. While there, Andrew finds out that his mother has kept important news from him, and he falls in with a group of Dumpster-diving “freegans”. Andrew has always kept a low profile, but getting caught up in the freegans’ lives and witnessing their sincerity and sense of themselves starts to change him. Debut author Kaufman does a great job of depicting young people who have opted out of conventional middle-class values. Andrew’s position as outsider and observer, coupled with the fact that he hasn’t yet figured out who he is or what he cares about, means that, at times, he fades into the background, but Kaufman patiently builds the insights and experiences that make him more dimensional, not only to readers, but to himself. Ages 13–up. Agent: Lauren MacLeod, the Strothman Agency. (Mar.)