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33 Snowfish
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About the Author

Adam Rapp is the acclaimed author of several novels for young adults, as well as an accomplished playwright whose plays have been produced by the New York Theatre Workshop, The Bush Theatre in London, and the American Repertory Theater in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Of 33 SNOWFISH, he says, "When we have nowhere to go, who do we turn
to? Why are we sometimes drawn to those who are deeply troubled? How
far do we have to run before we find new possibilities? These were some of the questions that kept haunting me while I was working on this book."

Timothy Basil Ering's drawings in 33 SNOWFISH represent the notebook sketches of the troubled character Boobie, and he also created the book's cover image. Tim Ering says, "I always think of illustration almost as a form of acting. When you receive a manuscript, you have to get into character and imagine being that character and what he or she is thinking. In this case, I also had to imagine how this character would draw, and how his drawing might change or shrink on the page according to his changing state of mind."

Reviews

"On top of everything else, Boobie's got the clap," begins Rapp's (Little Chicago) dark tale about three runaways who understand hatred and violence better than love. Custis, an orphan, is fleeing from his "owner," a producer of pornography and snuff films. Custis is accompanied by Curl, a child prostitute, and her boyfriend, Boobie, who has just murdered his parents and kidnapped his baby brother to sell on the streets. Drawn together more by desperation than friendship, they roam from one town to the next, stealing and scavenging. Alternating first-person narratives graphically express Custis's and Curl's histories of abuse and exploitation. Boobie remains more of a mystery, revealing troubled thoughts through pictures rather than words (Ering's line illustrations are meant to recreate Boobie's sketches). Signs of hope do not appear until two of the three children have lost their lives and the lone survivor, touched by a stranger's kindness, faces options that could change his fate. Readers may have trouble stomaching the language (e.g., "He was a dirty-ass little half-nigger, too-a lot dirtier than me"), as well as the horrors so flatly depicted and, in the end, so handily overcome. Final artwork not seen by PW. Ages 15-up. (Mar.)

Gr 9 Up-The opening sentence sets the hook: "On top of everything else, Boobie's got the clap." He is the eldest of a quartet of kids on the run. The "everything else" consists of the fact that he has killed his parents, stolen their car, and hooked up with Curl, 15, a prostitute. They take in the younger Custis, who has recently escaped from sexual bondage with an abusive pedophile. Lastly, the youngest traveler, Boobie's infant brother, is regarded as a likely source of income-if they can find a buyer. Depraved and depressing? Oh yeah, and the shocks just keep on coming. The fearsome elements escape the pages like nightmares loosed into daylight. Custis carries a loaded gun and is a racist who frequently uses offensive epithets. Curl, a drug addict, is pragmatic about using her body to make money. Boobie is not much of a talker, and is a pyromaniac whose occasional, naive, and brutal drawings speak for him. Things get worse before they get better. Seldom, an elderly black man, helps Custis bury the dead, celebrate Christmas, and take his first tentative steps toward a "normal" child/adult relationship. Spare descriptions and stellar characterization reel readers into the dark and violent world of these dispossessed and abused young people. This book will be controversial, but for those readers who are ready to be challenged by a serious work of shockingly realistic fiction, it invites both an emotional and intellectual response, and begs to be discussed.-Joel Shoemaker, Southeast Junior High School, Iowa City, IA Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.

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