Synopses & Reviews
An award-winning writer and playwright hits the open road for a searing novel-in-letters about a street kid on a highstakes trek across America.
For a runaway boy who goes by the name "Punkzilla," kicking a meth habit and a life of petty crime in Portland, Oregon, is a prelude to a mission: reconnecting with his older brother, a gay man dying of cancer in Memphis. Against a backdrop of seedy motels, dicey bus stations, and hitched rides, the desperate fourteen-year-old meets a colorful, sometimes dangerous cast of characters. And in letters to his sibling, he catalogs them all — from an abusive stranger and a ghostly girl to a kind transsexual and an old woman with an oozing eye. The language is raw and revealing, crackling with visceral details and dark humor, yet with each interstate exit Punkzillas journey grows more urgent: will he make it to Tennessee in time? This daring novel offers a narrative worthy of Kerouac and a keen insight into the power of chance encounters.
"At 14, pot-smoking, DVD player-stealing Jamie is no angel (though his androgynous good looks get him plenty of attention). He is sent to military school, but soon goes AWOL, spending some rough months in Portland, Ore. (mugging joggers, trying meth), before heading to Memphis by Greyhound bus to visit his gay older brother, Peter, who is dying of cancer. Rapp (Under the Wolf, Under the Dog) tells the story through Jamie's unsent letters, with additional letters from relatives and friends giving more background and context. Jamie, who has ADD, details every step (being taken advantage of sexually, getting jumped, befriending a female-to-male transsexual, losing his virginity) in expletive-filled, stream-of-consciousness narration with insights into seedy roadside America ('I think that as a general rule lonely people give other lonely people money a lot') and his own situation. Whether Jamie will survive his bad luck and make it to Memphis in time gives the story tension, but while Jamie leaves much behind each day on the road, little is found. The teenager's singular voice and observations make for an immersive reading experience. Ages 14 up." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
An award-winning writer and playwright ("33 Snowfish") hits the open road for a searing novel-in-letters about a street kid on a high-stakes trek across America.
About the Author
Adam Rapp is the acclaimed author of UNDER THE WOLF, UNDER THE DOG, a LOS ANGELES TIMES Book Prize Finalist and winner of the American Library Associations Schneider Family Book Award, and 33 SNOWFISH, an American Library Association Best Book for Young adults. He is also an accomplished playwright and was a Pulitzer Prize finalist in 2007. He lives in New York City.