Friday, May 30, 2014

No Place by Todd Strasser

I am so glad I read this book. I loved how the author wove teen issues AND homelessness into a plausible storyline. In a long-and-drawn-out-breath, Dan's family moves from their middle-class (and somewhat snobby) lives to living at his uncle's house (a less-than-desirable-home) to Dignityville, a homeless encampment established with support of the city where Dan lives. The real issue of the book becomes clear the further in you read: people have differing beliefs about homelessness and they will go to all sorts of lengths to defend their stance.

Dan is your average white teen, buff from working out as a star athlete and happily draped on an equally narrow-minded girlfriend. But he shades homelife from his friends: his mother never regained employment after losing her job 5 years ago, and now his dad is unemployed and can't find work. Things go from bad to worse in the money department, and finally the family loses their home. They move into Dan's mother's brother's house, only to find the uncle's attitude toward homelessness fiercely judgmental and his parenting heavy-handed at best. After a giant blow-up, Dan's family moves to Dignityville, the exact place Dan has spoken unkindly of. And Dan's living situation becomes no longer hideable. No spoiler alert gotta seek this one out yourself to see what happens next.

This book helped me stand a tad bit closer to what life could be like for a teenager living without a home. I realized while I was reading this book that I don't often lay my hands on YA books with homelessness in them and will be looking for them more in my book hunts. This book is winning awards too: International Reading Association's Young Adults' Choice award and American Library's YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults Award and recommended as a quick pick for reluctant readers. I can certainly see why. Strasser, an accomplished author, wrote a sweet yet difficult text in No Place.

*Special note: author Strausser created a Pinterest page on homelessness. Check out his website to see what he put together.

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