cover image Killing Time in Crystal City

Killing Time in Crystal City

Chris Lynch. Simon & Schuster, $17.99 (240p) ISBN 978-1-4424-4011-1

Seventeen-year-old runaway Kevin arrives in Crystal City with little more than a cast on his arm, the nickname Kiki Vandeweghe (after the former NBA star), and the address for his estranged uncle Sydney, the family’s black sheep. Asked how he got the cast by fellow bus passenger Stacey (who has a cast of her own), Kevin explains, “My Dad did it,” though the truth is less cut and dry, readers gradually learn. After Kevin arrives in the beach town, he moves in with his uncle (who describes his work fencing stolen luxury goods as a “perfectly reasonable redistribution of wealth... and a victimless crime. Like necrophilia”) and spends time with Stacey and another transient Molly, who has turned to prostitution to get by. Lynch (Little Blue Lies) parcels out details about Kevin father, his best friend, and why he left home through conversations, emails, and flashbacks, maintaining suspense. But it’s Kevin’s unshakable awkwardness (including a humiliating tendency to blush at Stacey’s every minor provocation), some dark twists, and Lynch’s proficiency for zingy banter that make this story about feeling like an outsider among outsiders leave a lasting impression. Ages 12–up. (Jan.)