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|Killing time in Crystal City|
Author: Lynch, Chris
Seventeen-year-old Kevin tries to reinvent himself when he runs away from home and the father he hates, but living with a mysterious uncle and befriending two homeless girls just adds more complications.
|Accelerated Reader Information:|
Interest Level: UG
Reading Level: 5.20
Points: 7.0 Quiz: 178877
|Reading Counts Information:|
Interest Level: 9-12
Reading Level: 5.40
Points: 13.0 Quiz: 64258
Kirkus Reviews (11/01/14)
School Library Journal (10/01/14)
The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books (03/15)
Full Text Reviews:
School Library Journal - 10/01/2014 Gr 9 Up—After an encounter with his father that results in a broken arm, Kevin runs away to Crystal City in the hopes of reconnecting with his estranged uncle. Kevin's life has been unsettled since his parents divorced, and getting away from his boring town cannot happen soon enough. Meeting Stacey, who is antagonistic and flirtatious, and Molly, whom they save from a potentially disastrous hookup at the bus terminal, introduces him to the local teens of Crystal City. Kevin's uncle welcomes him but makes it clear that he will tolerate no foolish behavior. Stacey and Molly find shelter at a Catholic youth hostel, which has strict curfew hours and a mandatory Mass attendance requirement. Kevin's father sends pleading emails asking Kevin to contact him and return home. Casual sex is mentioned but not in detail, and the violence near the end of the story is shocking but not gratuitous. The boredom and lack of opportunity and amusements for young people in a decaying town are accurately depicted. Reasons for Kevin's desire to create a new life and identity are established through flashbacks involving his father and a friend, Jasper, with whom he loses his virginity. Kevin's conflict over associating with his new friends, especially when he gets involved in a home robbery, is palpable and authentic. This is a grim and unsettling look at teen aimlessness and homelessness in a down-on-your-luck town. Recommended for fans of the author or readers who enjoy dark, angsty reads and character-driven novels.—Jennifer Schultz, Fauquier County Public Library, Warrenton, VA - Copyright 2014 Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and/or School Library Journal used with permission.
Booklist - 11/01/2014 Kevin, who has run away from home, is headed for Crystal City, where he will live with his estranged father’s brother, Uncle Syd, the family’s black sheep. En route, Kevin meets Stacey, who, like him, sports a cast on her arm. Arriving in Crystal City, the two teens meet a third, Molly, who—small world—is also wearing a cast. All three are homeless and, together, form an at-first fragile friendship. Desperate to find someplace he belongs, Kevin then finds a tentative tribe in a gaggle of homeless guys who live on the city’s sorry excuse for a beach. But are they the friends he needs? Are the girls? And why has he left home? The answers are revealed as the narrative moves backward and forward in time. Lynch has written another fine, character-driven coming-of-age novel, informed by a dramatic tension between reality and possibility, that explores a teen’s struggle to belong, whether in the city or at the home he has abandoned. The result is always absorbing and satisfying. - Copyright 2014 Booklist.
Bulletin for the Center... - 03/01/2015 A broken arm following an altercation with his father is just one of many last straws for seventeen-year-old Kevin, who has fled his hometown to stay with his black sheep uncle in a neighboring city and to break free of his constrained life. On the way, he meets fearless runaway Stacey, who’s amused and disarmed by Kevin’s dorky innocence. Once he’s installed at the apartment of his welcoming and unabashedly criminal uncle, he spends his days either hanging out with Stacey and her young protégé Molly, who are staying at a Catholic hostel except when missing curfew leaves them out on the streets, or getting stoned with a group of guys who aimlessly frequent the small strip of city beach. As Kevin falls harder for Stacey and for the gritty and uncertain existence she represents, flashbacks to his previous life, especially his relationship with his friend Jasper, offer hints-and red herrings-about what led him to leave. This is typical Lynch in its taut and authentic writing and in the tense, credible ambivalence of Kevin’s relationship with his father. Kevin’s desire for embrace of new possibilities (“I feel as if I am hurtling through all the life experiences I had missed before now”) is believable both in its strength and in his sheltered ignorance, which makes him a tourist amid jettisoned young people who have no choice but to live amid violence. The reveal that Kevin may have had sex with Jasper (he’s not sure himself) isn’t hugely startling, but the twists about what actually happened with his father, and what Kevin’s uncle turns out to be capable of, move from surprising to shocking. This is a novel bound to elicit discussion; while the dramatic foregrounded events will certainly draw attention, the underlying implications will prompt strong opinions about relationships, perception, and the many states of being a teenager. DS - Copyright 2015 The Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois.