A young man leaves his stifling Colorado hometown in search of his stepsister in this novel.
Danny Myers, on the cusp of graduating from high school, cannot wait for the day he finally leaves. Raised by cold, emotionless parents, he longs to attend college, but his mother and father won’t pay the tuition, and his scholarship is not generous enough. The family’s foster child, Rachel, has left town and moved to LA. After Rachel appears on a sleazy talk show announcing she is a call girl and slamming her hometown, Danny is beaten up at school. At home, there is a fight with his dad, and Danny packs his bags and departs Cripple Creek on his motor scooter. He heads to Pasadena, California, in search of Rachel. She is the only one who was ever caring at home, and he wants to help her. Securing a job at a unique Pasadena hotel, Danny meets Jennifer, a slightly older engineering student. She shows him the ropes at work, and her tough disposition and great beauty prove to be irresistible. Though he used to be called “Mr. Homespun” at school because of his homemade clothes, Danny now strives to become a kickboxing master at the local health club, gains 30 pounds of muscle, and finally loses his virginity to Jennifer. Problem is, Jennifer has an uncaring boyfriend in Chicago, and Danny has met a cute redhead named Sarah. In the meantime, Rachel contacts Danny, and he, Jennifer, and the hotel owner, the Marshal, are drawn into a seedy underworld that will test all of Danny’s newfound strength. Reed’s story about a young man who is truly starting from scratch turns out to be an engaging one, told in a straightforward, genuine voice. The characters are honest and circumspect, tough yet always loyal. They are quite capable, standing up to challenges and remaining resilient and amiable. The worlds Reed describes may be bleak, but they are painted brightly, and the coming-of-age/crime novel combination makes for a satisfying read. The book could use a proofreader (typos include “parked in lot” instead of parking lot), but Danny’s journey over these months, whether involving personal struggles or taking on the bad guys of LA, remains an exciting one.
A dynamic tale about a hotel worker trying to build a life in California.