A bright biracial teen on a downward spiral moves in with his alcoholic father on Florida’s Miccosukee reservation.
A gifted bass player, Trent, 17, has been ejected from his music magnet school and is failing in public school until he runs into Pippa, the loyal friend he hasn’t seen since middle school. They team up on a class filmmaking project: documenting each other’s home lives. Pippa becomes his anchor in a sea of troubles: an untrustworthy sometime-girlfriend, neglectful English immigrant mother, and abusive, alcoholic father, recently released from prison. Trent’s misery, though tinged with self-pity, is compelling and emotionally nuanced, and amplified by the closely observed Everglades setting, it has a moody power. “Dad grew up on the Rez. He had to move out once he hooked up with Mom, who is one hundred percent London hippie chick,” Trent says. “That makes me half native, half white, and one hundred percent nothing.” In fact, it makes him the updated, YA version of the tragic mulatto: an ancient mixed-race stereotype that refuses to die. Discovering and embracing his missing Miccosukee family and heritage sets Trent on the path to wholeness (and tribal membership, evidently bypassing actual Miccosukee tribal-enrollment requirements). His complicated white heritage, including the status and privileges it still confers, remains invisible, unexamined and unintegrated.
An atmospheric, if downbeat, character portrait. (Fiction. 14 & up)