Books by J.T. Dutton

STRANDED by J.T. Dutton
Released: June 1, 2010

Named for actress Tina Louise, Ginger on Gilligan's Island, Kelly Louise and her single mother are leaving Des Moines for her mother's hometown, Heaven, Iowa. But life is far from idyllic as the 15-year-old moves in with her cleaning-obsessed Nana, shares a bedroom with her Jesus-, kitten- and unicorn-loving cousin Natalie, undertakes the impossible task of finding a boyfriend mid-school year and becomes intrigued by the media frenzy surrounding Baby Grace, a newborn abandoned in a cornfield. Her edgy, first-person narration puts forward a drama queen in public, but she lays herself bare with self-deprecating humor in private. Occasional touches of wry humor, such as her partying classmates at Carrie Nation High School (named for the hatchet-wielding member of the Temperance Movement), punctuate Kelly Louise's angry and guilt-ridden struggles with impulsivity, sexuality, religious hypocrisy and small-town life and its gossip. When she learns the mystery of Baby Grace's murder, the teen must weigh her truthful convictions against the consequences of revealing family secrets. Kelly Louise's fresh voice will change the way readers think about "good" girls. (Fiction. YA)Read full book review >
FREAKED by J.T. Dutton
Released: March 1, 2009

Burnout private-schooler Scotty Loveletter has two aims in life: getting high and getting lost in the trancey vibes of the Grateful Dead. His "freak" personality earns him some reputability with his classmates when he scores them drugs, but his scholastic pursuits, friendships and social life all run second to Jerry and the bong. Except for a couple of smirk-inducing subplots (his bombshell mom appearing in Playboy, a dead-goldfish incident), the main narrative thrust is Scotty's determination to make it to a Dead concert on Long Island, a quest that involves a gun, lots of self-deprecation and a few drugged-out yelling matches with his roommate—all in all, little meat for teen readers to sink their teeth into. The directionless plot is further weakened by Dutton's persistence in evoking The Catcher in the Rye a little too loudly. The parallels are blaringly obvious and weaken her status as an up-and-coming teen novelist. To her credit, she can spin a well-written sentence or two, but Scotty's slow-paced story and the Grateful Dead element limit the work's appeal to a very niche audience, if anyone. Half-baked. (Fiction. YA)Read full book review >