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StorySnoops Children's Book Reviews | Punkzilla | Adam Rapp
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by Adam Rapp
PUBLISHER: Candlewick Press
NO. PAGES: 256
GENRE{S}: Realistic Fiction, Literary Fiction
YALSA Best Books for Young Adults
Michael L. Printz Honor Book
ISBN: 0763630314
READ & REVIEWED BY: Shannon - StorySnoop

The Story
Punkzilla—Book Review

After fourteen-year-old Jamie goes AWOL from his military school in Ohio, he finds himself homeless in Portland, Oregon, hiding from his rigidly conservative military father. There he is known as "Punkzilla" and lives a life filled with meth, crime, and other runaways. When he receives a letter from his older brother, Peter, who is dying of cancer, Jamie risks everything and heads to Memphis to reconnect with him. On the road, Jamie is beaten and mugged at a bus stop, and misses his bus to Memphis. Determined to get to his brother in time, Jamie hitchhikes across the country, meeting a number of interesting characters and having some life-changing experiences along the way.
The Scoop
Punkzilla—Book Review
{spoiler alert}

This poignant and compelling novel is written in a stream-of-consciousness first-person narrative style. The book is made up of a series of letters to and from Jamie. Each letter's author has his/her own distinct voice from which the reader is better able to understand the full picture of Jamie's story. Most of the book is made up of Jamie's letters to Peter in which he describes his brutal life on the streets where drugs are prevalent, language is graphic, and people are less than wholesome. In Portland, Jamie is both a victim and a criminal, as he mugs people and gets mugged himself. Off his ADD meds, he struggles to feel sane and self-medicates with drugs. Jamie is sexually exploited by a man who performs oral sex on him. Although Jamie doesn't want this and isn't gay, he feels powerless to stop it. There is a brief mention of a thug putting a pencil in a cat's anus, and there is a scene where Jamie and his friend are sexually pleasured by a prostitute at the same time. Once Jamie leaves this life for his brother, his choices and luck (for the most part) improve. Peter is also estranged from his parents as his father disowned him after he came out of the closet. Jamie loses his virginity to a girl his age in a tender scene. He ends up in a healthy environment where he is accepted and loved for who he is, raised by Peter's partner. Despite its deep themes, this book is a quick and easy read best enjoyed by older teens.
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