by Rapp, Adam
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School Library Journal Gr 9 Up-Fourteen-year-old Jamie-street name Punkzilla-is AWOL from military school. He's already lived hand to mouth in a west coast city, stealing iPods, doing cheap drugs, and getting the occasional joyless hand job. Now he is headed to Memphis where his oldest brother, Peter, a gay playwright, is dying from cancer. His story is told through his letters to Peter as he hitchhikes across the country, written in the backseats of cars, under a tree where a man hanged himself, and ultimately in retrospect when he reaches his journey's sad end. Along the way he meets the good, the bad, and the skewed, including a girl who gives him his first experience of loving intercourse. Like his brother, punk boy Jamie will never fulfill the expectations of his rigidly conservative father or meet the needs of his ineffectual mother. As in 33 Snowfish (Candlewick, 2003), Rapp pulls no punches in depicting the degrading life of children on the streets. The choice to live free from parents and school comes at a cost-to survive Jamie becomes both exploited and exploiter. But there is more here than the sordid streets. Impulsive and naive as he may be, Jamie is struggling for something that just might come close to integrity. Readers can see the good in him and even in his infuriating parents. In the end he finds shelter with his brother's lover, who opens the door to the creative life, a more intelligent and focused world-outside-the-box where Jamie just might find what he needs. Exquisitely true in its raw but vulnerable voice, this story is a compulsive read.-Carolyn Lehman, Humboldt State University, Arcata, CA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Library Journal Fourteen year-old Jamie ("Punkzilla") is coming down from his latest hit of meth and traveling across country by bus to see his brother P, a Memphis playwright dying of cancer. Jamie's letters to P tell the story of his journey and his recent turn as a military school dropout. Why It Is for Us: In the hands of this gifted stylist, Punkzilla (so named for his love of punk music) opens the reader's eyes to a seedier America. The world he views and the people he meets along the way lend this epistolary stream-of-consciousness novel an importance that extends beyond his recent personal troubles. Rapp, a playwright himself, does not waste a word. For fans of Kerouac's On the Road. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Book list *Starred Review* The 61-word run-on sentence on the first page sets the stream-of-consciousness tone, and then two pages later there's hand jobs and meth yep, it's a Rapp novel, all right. And the quality hits the high standards of 33 Snowfish (2003) and Under the Wolf, Under the Dog (2004). Fourteen-year-old Jamie (aka Punkzilla ) has gone AWOL from his military school, is off his meds, and is making his way from Oregon to Memphis, where his older brother, Peter, is dying of cancer. Though he is thankful to leave behind his career as an iPod thief, life on the road doesn't seem much better: his fellow Greyhound riders are frightening, he gets jumped in a roadside restroom, and his androgynous features land him in increasingly disturbing situations. You expect such bleakness from Rapp, but it's the flashes of humor and optimism that exhilarate. Beneath a surface of disease, despair, and disfigurements, Rapp's road trip is populated with good souls who, despite their circumstances, make significant sacrifices to help Punkzilla. Rapp constructs the book as a series of unsent letters to Peter and punctuates them with correspondence, some old enough to be heartbreakingly out of date, that Punkzilla has received from friends and family. This is devastating stuff, but breathtaking, too.--Kraus, Daniel Copyright 2009 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright American Library Association. Used with permission.

Publishers Weekly At 14, pot-smoking, DVD player-stealing Jamie is no angel (though his androgynous good looks get him plenty of attention). He is sent to military school, but soon goes AWOL, spending some rough months in Portland, Ore. (mugging joggers, trying meth), before heading to Memphis by Greyhound bus to visit his gay older brother, Peter, who is dying of cancer. Rapp (Under the Wolf, Under the Dog) tells the story through Jamie's unsent letters, with additional letters from relatives and friends giving more background and context. Jamie, who has ADD, details every step (being taken advantage of sexually, getting jumped, befriending a female-to-male transsexual, losing his virginity) in expletive-filled, stream-of-consciousness narration with insights into seedy roadside America ("I think that as a general rule lonely people give other lonely people money a lot") and his own situation. Whether Jamie will survive his bad luck and make it to Memphis in time gives the story tension, but while Jamie leaves much behind each day on the road, little is found. The teenager's singular voice and observations make for an immersive reading experience. Ages 14-up. (May) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved