MR. 60% by Clete Barrett Smith

MR. 60%

Age Range: 14 - 17
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A high school drug dealer learns some harsh truths.

Matt Nolan has been doing the bare minimum to get by in school, and he’s close to graduating with a grade average just above the state-mandated 60 percent. The only reason Matt shows up to school is to sling drugs to the teenage client pool that other drug dealers can’t get to. The vice principal has plenty of circumstantial evidence against Matt and is frothing at the mouth to catch him red-handed, but the authorities don’t know that Matt is using the proceeds to take care of his beloved uncle. Jack took Matt in when Matt had nowhere to go, and the pair lives in a cramped trailer while Jack slowly dies of cancer. The author weaves a desperate tale filled with money problems, emotional baggage, and a compelling central character. Unfortunately the peripheral characters are fairly thin. Uncle Jack is a kindhearted, proud guy and not much else. Amanda, the plus-sized pariah who befriends Matt, is a voice of support that stretches credulity. These thin characters and the cartoonishly evil vice principal conflict harshly with the author’s exploration of Matt’s isolationist complex. The novel is well-structured, moving quickly between beats but not rushing. This is a laser-focused book, interested in exploring fear and grief regardless of other shortcomings; casting his characters as white ensures that this focus remains fixed.

An unbalanced but still effective tear-jerker. (Fiction. 14-17)

Pub Date: Aug. 22nd, 2017
ISBN: 978-0-553-53466-5
Page count: 192pp
Publisher: Crown
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15th, 2017


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