Fourteen-year-old Doug’s life is going down the toilet. His abusive father moves the family to a new town where they live in a house Doug names “The Dump.” His older brother is severely injured in the Vietnam War. And his middle brother is accused of stealing — which makes everyone in the new town assume Doug is also a hoodlum.
Despite the odds stacked against him, Doug is determined to thrive. He discovers a love for drawing when he sees an Audubon book on display at his local library. With the help of sympathetic teachers, he overcomes illiteracy and discovers an innate talent for science and math. This heartwarming, emotional story follows Doug in his day to day life and leaves readers cheering for him and hoping he is able to overcome all the obstacles in his path. One of my favorite things about this book is the fact that even those who seem to be the worst villains have the opportunity to be redeemed. And despite his upbringing and the unfair perceptions of others, Doug is determined to see the good in others and work to make the world a better place. Though this brief description may make this sound like a saccharine, feel-good story, Doug’s tough-guy voice makes it a very grounded, accessible book for boy or girl readers from ages 10-14.
–Amanda Coppedge Bosky