After fleeing her home, suburban-bred Dana struggles to survive in the alleys, squats, and subway stations of downtown Toronto. Dana's graffiti on an underpass catches the eye of a counselor at Sketches, a drop-in center where homeless teens can express themselves through art. As Dana works on a painting, she begins to confront the reason she left home. The truth of what her stepfather did to her is trying to break free, but will it come out through her paintbrush or the blade of a knife?
This gritty, honest portrayal of street life from acclaimed Canadian author Eric Walters is a testament to the healing power of art.
Gr 7 Up-Dana, 14, escapes her stepfather's sexual abuse by running away to the streets of Toronto, where she forms a "family" with street kids Ashley and Brent. Panhandling money for food, finding places to sleep, and staying safe are a struggle, but the three manage to survive. Little by little, Dana learns why her friends are in this situation, and she in turn reveals her story. The teens' saving grace is Sketches, a drop-in center where homeless youth engage in art and are cared for. When an attempt to make a home in Tent Town falls apart, Dana, Ashley, and Brent, with the help of Sketches's staff, develop a plan to get off the streets permanently. Though Walters's characters are developed enough for readers to care about them, they're not fully fleshed out. While hinted at (but never actually described), Dana's abuse is not disclosed until the end of the book, raising unanswered questions of why she left her younger sister in jeopardy and whether she had told her mother what was happening. Todd Strasser's Can't Get There from Here (S & S, 2004) is a more compelling, intense, and bleak depiction of street kids, but readers who liked it will be drawn to this story, too, especially its believable yet non-gritty dialogue. The characters' well-portrayed camaraderie, resourcefulness, and resiliency carry the tale, which ends on a note of promise.-Diane P. Tuccillo, Fort Collins Regional Library District, CO Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.
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March 12, 2008
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