Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Dear Life, You Suck

Author: Scott Blagden
Publisher: Harcout (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
Released: March 26, 2013
Genre: YA Contemporary
Series: No
Source: Library
Irreverent, foulmouthed seventeen-year-old Cricket is the oldest ward in a Catholic boys’ home in Maine—and his life sucks. With prospects for the future that range from professional fighter to professional drug dealer, he seems doomed to a life of “criminal rapscallinity.” In fact, things look so bleak that Cricket can’t help but wonder if his best option is one final cliff dive into the great unknown.
An achingly honest look at an apparently hopeless existence, Dear Life, You Suck pulled me in right from the first page. Cricket's voice, his irreverent attitudes toward everything in life, are just so compelling. Of course, this all turns out to be posturing and underneath his tough exterior is a little boy, desperate and vulnerable, using sarcasm and smart-alec answers in order to hide his deep hurt and despair. He despairs with good reason, of course. He knows the world is not what the adults make it out to be, that you can't depend on adults or you'll get screwed. 

But he sabotages his own happiness time and again, especially with Wynona. Wynona is a lovable character. At first, I felt like I couldn't understand why Cricket was so enamored of her when she was the girlfriend of his biggest enemy, the guy who bullies all his younger "siblings." But as the story goes on, I came to see that Wynona is exactly what Cricket needs. He of course doesn't see things that way, but really Wynona is a large part of why Cricket comes out of the dark dark darkness.

I don't believe he ever really considers suicide. I don't think he thinks he ever really considers it. He just uses it as a comforting thought, that he won't have to deal with everything if he just checks out. But for all his saying that life sucks, for all the reasons he gives Moxie Lord, he really loves life. He just can't see how he can find his purpose. Right now, he has a purpose in protecting the Little Ones and teaching them how to fend for themselves, but he can't picture what life will be like once he leaves school and Mother Mary. Again, for all his calling it the Prison, Cricket really loves the home and Mother Mary. He's terrified of leaving his safe place.

What really makes this book so touching is the way it's told completely from Cricket's point of view and in his own voice, so that we get to see inside his head, with a running commentary on everything that's going on. It means that every emotion he feels is bam! in your face. Everyone else's motivations are seen only through Cricket's view, but somehow we get to understand that not everyone is out to get him. And it means that he presents his own actions in a detached sort of way which only highlights the fact that his actions are heroic.

There is so much more I love about this book. It's a must-read!

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