Can't Get There from Here

by Todd Strasser

In a gritty and bleak novel, Todd Strasser offers a harsh look at the lives of homeless... read more

In a gritty and bleak novel, Todd Strasser offers a harsh look at the lives of homeless teens and the urban tribes they create to replace families from whom they have become estranged. Some teens are on the streets by choice, others were rejected by their families of birth, and each adopts a new name and identity to survive the very real dangers of living on the streets. Strasser’s story for mature teens (it includes sexuality, and graphic violence and language) follows a teen called Maybe. One by one, her street brothers and sisters disappear or die deaths that could have been avoided: exposure to the elements, drugs, murder, AIDS-related illnesses. Each gruesome death is revealed in a cold, official police report at the beginning of a new chapter. Angel, 2Moro, Maggot, Rainbow: Maybe loses them all. Adults and do-gooders intermittently try to help the teens, but their ignorance about each kid’s situation, their insistence on knowing what is best, and the reality of shelters and social workers makes their offers of safety sound hollow. One adult manages to get it right: a librarian at the public library offers Maybe help without trying to tell her what help she needs. By being available to her on her own terms, he is ultimately able to provide the single glimmer of hope that might save Maybe, and that keeps an emotionally challenging book from being unbearably depressing. (Ages 15–17)

© Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 2005

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