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PUNKZILLA by Adam Rapp

PUNKZILLA

By Adam Rapp

Age Range: 14 & up

Pub Date: May 1st, 2009
ISBN: 978-0-7636-3031-7
Publisher: Candlewick

Rapp mines his Midwestern roots for another well-realized tale of raw teenage woe. Fourteen-year-old Jamie (aka “Punkzilla” due to his love of the music) has gone AWOL from military school and is living in a halfway house in Portland, Ore., when he gets the news that his eldest brother Peter, a gay playwright, is dying of cancer in Memphis. Desperate to see P before he dies, Jamie embarks on a cross-country journey that reads like a contemporary version of On the Road. Along the way, he encounters myriad societal dropouts, many of whom function as his bargain-bin guardian angels. Narrated in an out-of-order, epistolary manner, the tale contains the author’s familiar themes of isolation, societal rejection and the invisibility of the rural poor. But his cast of disenfranchised characters is so authentically rendered (dim Bucktooth Jenny talks to her collection of doll heads, kindly transsexual Lewis cooks Jamie a hotplate meal) that fans of his gritty YA fare will be more than happy to be in his company again. (Fiction. 14 & up)