cover image Destroy All Cars

Destroy All Cars

Blake Nelson, . . Scholastic Press, $17.99 (218pp) ISBN 978-0-545-10474-6

High school student James Hoff is a passionate writer who rants about everything from sheeplike “Consumer Americans” to the destruction of the environment. He also writes about his ex-girlfriend Sadie, who he feels is a lightweight when it comes to saving the world. While Sadie is involved in positive initiatives like community food drives, James prefers a more radical approach (“The automobile is the foundation upon which our unsustainable lifestyle is based. They must be DESTROYED. All of them. Even the cute ones”). His pugnacious determination is admirable, but even he admits uninspired (“The problem is I don't believe in anything”). James comes to realize that his nihilism, both personal and political, is ultimately alienating him from others and preventing him from reaching his potential. James's journal entries and the combative essays that he writes (and rewrites) for his English teacher make up the brunt of the narrative and demonstrate his eventual growth. Nelson (Paranoid Park ) offers an elegant and bittersweet story of a teenager who is finding his voice and trying to make meaning in a world he often finds hopeless. Ages 15–up. (May)