Sis Boulos Deans, Author . Holt $15.95 (160p) ISBN 978-0-8050-6635-7

This hard-hitting novel portrays the struggle of a smalltown 11-year-old to find self-respect and a sense of purpose after the recent death of his violent, alcoholic father. A sixth-grade bully's taunt—"My father said the best thing your father ever did for your family was running his truck off of Dead Man's Curve"—infuriates Ricky, all the more because he privately agrees, and the fight he starts lands him in the principal's office. When the principal threatens to call in Ricky's overburdened mother, Ricky promises to stay out of trouble, even though it will mean giving up recess and avoiding the school bus. Deans (Brick Walls) deftly builds Ricky's attitude toward his three-and-a-half mile commute from a sacrifice to a personal challenge: he starts setting daily goals, first jogging and then running until he eventually vows to beat the bus home. Ricky's race is echoed by his rejection of the town's stereotypes of his family as thieves and deadbeats. As he says to his younger brother, Matt, "We're done being this town's white trash." Strong subplots and a keen sense of family dynamics help propel the action. Matt, for example, won't enter the house until Ricky checks every room, because he's terrified that their father will somehow rise from the dead to continue his abuses. Deans's persuasive and informed sympathy encourages readers to cheer Ricky for his perseverance and his triumphs. Ages 10-15. (May)

Reviewed on: 06/11/2001
Release date: 05/01/2001
Genre: Children's
Paperback - 151 pages - 978-0-14-240308-2 - 978-0-14-240308-2
Ebook - 160 pages - 978-1-4299-2507-5
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