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UNDER THE WOLF, UNDER THE DOG by Adam Rapp

UNDER THE WOLF, UNDER THE DOG

By Adam Rapp

Age Range: 14 & up

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 2004
ISBN: 0-7636-1818-7
Publisher: Candlewick

Like so many teen protagonists, Steve Nugent is struggling with his mother’s death from cancer. His journal looks back on that death and, shortly thereafter, his brother’s suicide. Now living at a center for troubled teens, the 16-year-old occasionally focuses on his life there, like the scene where he gratefully loses his virginity, but he mainly describes in painful, if well-crafted, detail his bleak earlier existence, which he perceives as a grungy world smelling like vomit and urine, full of people with bad teeth and bad breath. In a deteriorating mental state, Steve himself urinates in public, in his pants, and on his father’s bed; drops acid; and befriends a ten-year-old girl, smoking cigarettes with her and abandoning her on a cross-country bus ride. A certain grim humor sometimes relieves the heavy narrative, which does end with a gleam of hope for readers who have stuck with the long, disturbing story. (Fiction. YA)