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THE STRAITS by Jeremy Craig


by Jeremy Craig

Pub Date: June 1st, 2009
ISBN: 978-0-7387-1444-8
Publisher: Flux

Since his mother and sister died in a Florida hurricane, Jim, 15, has survived in a FEMA trailer park with Aunt Mel, supplementing her meager income by working construction. The park will close soon, so they’re saving up for a place to rent. A skillful poker player, Jim is drawn to Kathy, a friend who is sympathetic but wary of his gambling. After his nemesis, Hollis, gets him fired, Jim, desperate to earn rent money, joins a floating poker game and risks his and Aunt Mel’s savings on the outcome. This first novel meanders, supplying too little of the rising tension a thriller requires. Weather bulletins between chapters signal to readers that a hurricane approaches, but because the characters are unaware of the storm until it hits, this fails to build suspense. Jim’s well-founded fear of homelessness and desperate gamble could be gripping, but they are diluted by a surfeit of melodramatic plotlines. Nonetheless, Jim makes an appealing and original hero. Easygoing yet complex, veering between detachment and desperation, he’s worth spending time with. (Fiction. 12 & up)