The author of the prize-winning Hap and Leonard series (Devil Red, 2011, etc.) charts a course that may remind you of a distaff Huck and Jim.
Paddling a makeshift raft down the Sabine River, they flee East Texas, a New York minute ahead of their pursuers. There are four of them: tough-minded Sue Ellen Wilson, at 16, the stuff of natural leaders; Jinx, Sue Ellen’s lifelong black friend who, if she knows anything at all, knows she’s better than the bigotry she’s endured all her life; angry, resentful Terry, not wholly reconciled to the fact that he’s gay; and Sue Ellen’s alcoholic mom Helen, who’s quite forgotten how pretty she still is. Flagrantly ill-treated, consistently undervalued, they’ve been brought together by a murder. May Lynn Baxter, “the kind of girl that made men turn their heads and take a deep breath,” is pulled from the river, her bizarre death clearly no accident. It’s an event that provides the restless four with both a mission and a pretext. May Lynn always wanted to go to Hollywood. They will usher her ashes there, a task that provides them with a more or less credible reason for doing what they’ve been longing to do: run.
The river, the raft, a stash of money coveted by bad guys, nonstop adventures that edify, terrify and deepen the bond between Sue Ellen and Jinx. A highly entertaining tour de force.