Sentenced to a juvenile detention camp and eager to escape, Digger has a plan that sends him on a journey that is both a survival story and a lesson in trust.
Introduced as the culprit in a prank gone wrong in Red Kayak (2004), Digger is angry yet determined to help his mother and siblings, who have long been abused by his father. Though seemingly anxious for their safety, Digger is derailed surprisingly easily once on the outside, as he tries to evade authorities and fend for himself as best he can. He develops a whole new persona as Gerry, the baby sitter for a kid with reading difficulties and a gambling father, and gets a job as a stable hand for a nearby horse-rescue farm. Some of the survival techniques he uses are both unlawful and unlikely, but Digger’s strong narrative voice and the basic decency beneath his stupidity help readers overcome these flaws. A surplus of action keeps the plot moving forward and obscures questions of logic that might emerge if readers had an opportunity to stop and think. The trope of the underdog who survives and wins a better future due to kindness in the world and in his heart is fairly standard fare, and this is no exception.
It’s a satisfying one, though, and it rises above the genre via gritty language and secondary characters with lives of their own. (map) (Fiction. 12-16)