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This intriguing novel begins with a gruesome crime perpetrated by a troubled 14-year old boy, Matthew, while his 12-year old best friend Patrick (aka Tricky or Patch) watches on in secrecy and silence. Matthew is caught and serves time for the act, but Patrick swallows the guilt and shame of his inaction. Although Matthew seems to be the bad guy here, his position morphs over time until it’s not so simple anymore. There are clearly extenuating circumstances involved in the childhood crime. Patrick, however, balances on the precipice of a mid-life crisis, edging closer to a breakdown, pushed even further by the reappearance of a now-successful and wealthy Matthew. The twists and turns in this novel keep you on guessing until the very end. ~ Reviewed by Shirley Cagle
An interesting read about a growing sub-culture of van and camper dwellers living in subsistence conditions. The author immersed herself in this culture over several years and it plainly shows in her candid but gentle treatment of her subjects-turned-friends. Her narrative draws you through the life stories of numerous people, forced mostly through job loss or retirement, into a low- or no-rent living alternative, supplementing their incomes through minimum-wage, seasonal jobs. ~ Reviewed by Shirley Cagle
A somewhat shocking memoir of a girl whose mother was murdered in the mid 1970s, possibly an early victim of the Hillside Stranglers. She is raised by her grandfather and his wife. He is, in turns, benevolent and indulgent, but also vulgar, demanding and selfish. Her upbringing is, by all accounts, quite unorthodox. An interesting voyage through somebody else's normal. ~ Reviewed by Shirley Cagle
This novel is exactly my favorite type of book - one that you cannot put down! The story is poignant and gripping. Naomi's job as a "child finder" is borne out of personal demons and she is driven to find as many missing children as she can, despite the emotional toll. As a protagonist, you could not ask for a more sympathetic subject. And you have to admire the grit of the little girl, Madison, in a terrible situation, but intent on survival. ~ Reviewed by Shirley Cagle
Wow! Just wow! What a powerful book! This novel is not for the faint of heart. The prose is evocative and visceral. It takes on some of our most taboo societal ills: abuse, sexual abuse, neglect. Turtle, a 14-year old girl is being raised by her father in a small coastal community in northern California. She is socially isolated and her father has ingrained in her a survivalist mentality. It stands her in good stead for all the turmoil to come in this story. ~ Reviewed by Shirley Cagle