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by Thelma Hatch Wyss

Age Range: 11 - 14

Pub Date: March 1st, 2002
ISBN: 0-06-029783-2
Publisher: HarperCollins

Stories of runaways and survival attract middle-grade readers nearly as well as a short format. This boasts the added attractions of solid, sometimes poetic writing, a great, self-deprecating sense of humor, and a zippy pace that will keep readers interested. Sixteen-year-old Martin Miller has grown up with his widowed Mom Miller in Winnemucca, Nevada. Martin feels entirely comfortable there and resists leaving when his mother marries a wealthy man from Seattle. Just after the wedding, as his Mom and new stepfather leave for an extended European honeymoon, Martin escapes in his Jeep. His gas money takes him as far as Red Rock, Idaho, where he sets up residence in an illegal campsite, hiding his Jeep from the road. He quickly finds a job and enrolls in the local high school. Except for running away, Martin behaves with real responsibility, working, studying, and caring for the “critters” that surround his Jeep. His new girlfriend, however, shoplifts, steals, and eventually reveals Martin’s secret camp. Wyss (A Stranger Here, 1993, etc.) deftly keeps her writing light and her narrative moving, as she leads readers (and Martin) into realizing that his choices reflect his feelings about his mother far more than about leaving Winnemucca. With truly readable style, she balances plot and language in an entirely plausible adventure into growing up that should have wide appeal. (Fiction. 11-14)