Homeless for years, Ian, 11, and his father, a Vietnam veteran, have been grateful for the meager comforts at the city's abandoned Hall of Justice; the old historic courthouse is minimally heated and has toilets and running water. As the story opens, though, Ian's life is in flux; his father has disappeared and an arts group starts remodeling the Hall of Justice, turning it into an art center. Ian must use all the survival skills his father has taught him in order to continue his precarious but independent life. The real story, however, is his courage in the face of terrible adversity and his inborn sense of honor; it keeps him honest most of the time, but also makes a wretched life even more intolerable. Fans of Gary Paulsen's survival stories will be fascinated with the details of what Ian knows, and how he applies them. Fenner (Randall's Wall, 1991, etc.) has created a hero blessed and cursed by his dogged determination, and set him down in an ennobling tale of people prevailing over the very worst that life has to offer.