Orphaned Joey Getchie lives in just the latest of a series of foster homes, this one slightly less awful than the last one, and is powering through high school to graduate early so he can file for emancipation and get the hell out while the getting’s good. But then there is his growing interest in Trisha, a foster child like himself but with her own problems, and the dysfunctional family whose McMansion he cleans for spending money, and the dangerously annoying attentions of his social worker who keeps trying to help him in spite every effort Joey makes to hinder her.
As Mrs. Petty would put it, “Joey, you don’t make it easy for any of us.”
Nope. But then someone does a hit-and-run on the boy he got into a fight with at chess club (which he only joined so he could eat his lunch in peace and quiet) and the police come calling. Joey has known all he needs to know about the police since a police officer/foster parent tried to frame him for arson at age 11, and what a surprise, they’ve got it wrong again.
The deck is so stacked against this kid you don’t see how he’s going to make it, except…maybe not. For one thing, he’s smart enough to unravel the history at the heart of the plot, one that involves drug money, child abduction and a double and very nearly a quadruple homicide.
The ending is a bit rushed in tying up all the plot ends, but otherwise this is writing at the level of Laurie Halse Anderson and I do not make that comparison lightly, as Speak is a YA novel I revere above all others. Cameron has the voice of a 15-year old boy down, smart, funny, independent and no whining, even if this is the underbelly of adolescence and it ain’t pretty. Great title, too. I’m looking forward to the next in this series. Recommended.
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