Thursday, August 09, 2018


28186337Hall, Mary Lou. Wirewalker
September 6th 2016 by Viking Books for Young Readers
Personal Copy

Clarence has a difficult life. His mother was killed in a drive by shooting, and his father has fallen apart since then. While he used to have a job to go to, he now just hangs out with Johnnyprice, who is a small time drug dealer who uses Clarence as a courier for "medicine". Clarence is glad of a little money, but increasingly uncomfortable with his work, especially after much more prosperous dealer Y wants to recruit him. Once he starts high school, Clarence finds it more and more difficult to deal with his life at home. He does have a good support network that includes Mrs. Moffet, his English teacher who not only encourages his writing but also him want to mentor a troubled middle school student, Billie, and an older boy who has been in similar circumstances to Clarence but hopes to go to college. There is also very kindly convenience store owner Mr. K., who drinks tea with Clarence and tries to help him out as much as he can. Clarence also meets a neighbor, Gina, who has a very sweet dog whom he starts to take care of. Unfortunately, there is a lot of dog fighting that goes on in his neighborhood, and as a "man", he is supposed to enjoy that. When his father and Johnnyprice try to steal the money he has been saving, he has had enough and runs away to live in Gina's shed. This is not a good situation either, and eventually Clarence has to go home and figure out how he can go on with his life, not make bad choices, and survive long enough to be a successful adult.
Strengths: The details about what it is like to live in a struggling neighborhood with a father who is not an effective caregiver are very well done, and the author drew on the experiences of a coworker she had who had run drugs when he was young. It's great to see that Clarence really wants to do the right thing, even when he's not entirely sure what that is. Mr. K was fantastic, and the fact that he runs a convenience store is a nice touch, somehow, since Clarence occasionally helps stock shelves, etc. The subplot with Billie is interesting, because Billie is even worse off than Clarence.
Weaknesses: This is littered with unnecessary f-bombs, and it would be nice to have either more of a plot or at least tie up the many threads that are going.
What I really think: I have one reader who loves this type of gritty, inner city book, so I may just give him my copy. It's a bit much for a middle school library. Kiss The Book agrees.

Ms. Yingling

No comments:

Post a Comment