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by Doug Wilhelm

Age Range: 10 - 13

Pub Date: April 25th, 2001
ISBN: 0-374-36178-9
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Casey knows that he must rush home every day to clean up his Dad’s empty beer bottles, finish dinner when his Dad retreats to the garage to get high, and put a blanket over his Dad when he passes out from drinking. Casey knows to expect disappointment when his father promises to take him to a football game and to expect embarrassment when his father is drunk in public. But when Casey’s aunt asks him to participate in an intervention for his father, he does not know if he can handle the situation and does not know how his dad will respond. As it turns out, the intervention process itself becomes not only a path to recovery for his father, but also a way for Casey to regain his freedom and childhood. Wilhelm almost avoids didacticism by depicting the subject of alcoholism in a convincing manner with realistic characters. Occasional slides into messages can be overlooked thanks to the better writing elsewhere. Casey’s sidekick, Oscar, and a budding friendship with Tara, whose own mother died from substance abuse, blend humor and a touch of romance to this serious topic. One quibble rests with the dénouement, which gives the responsibility of the intervention back to Casey, who has had to learn that everything is not his fault. Could he do it and would that be the right thing given the circumstances? Still, the story with its sympathetic hero will have strong appeal for a wide range of readers including those who need to learn Casey’s lesson. (Fiction. 10-13)