From School Library Journal
Grade 8 Up–Ian McDermott doesn't have much going for him. He has basically raised himself and his young brother, who has fetal alcohol syndrome. Their mother is a deadbeat drug addict who makes rare appearances in their lives. At Morrison High School, things aren't much better; the administration wants him out. The thing is, Ian isn't going to take any guff from anyone. But one day, he loses his cool and ends up breaking Coach Florence's jaw. The teen knows that he and Sammy have to get away fast before the cops catch up with him. They grab some meager supplies and skate out of Spokane toward Walla Walla to search for their estranged father. Surviving on the lam in the wilderness isn't easy. They cross the state in cold rain, with barely enough provisions. At one point they end up in trouble with a sheriff but escape. The brothers have high hopes that their father will welcome them into his life, but things do not turn out as planned. The author has created a main character who is confident and tragic, but too many convenient coincidences detract from the story being completely believable. Ian's most redeeming quality is the love he has for his brother. The ending is predictable, and the novel does not have the zip that makes it extraordinary, but it does allow readers to breathe a sigh of relief for these siblings.–Shannon Seglin, Chantilly Regional Library, Fairfax County, VA
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Despite a jacket photo of a figure riding a skateboard, this first novel is less about skater culture than about learning to deal with life's hard knocks. Fifteen-year-old Ian has little patience for authority at school, where he assumes officials view him as "just another punker with spiked hair and no brain." He especially dreads being swept into the foster-care system by clueless adults. So when his drug-addicted mother's negligence and his own poor judgment leave him anticipating separation from his younger brother, Sammy, Ian and Sammy embark on a 160-mile hike to find the father who "skated" out of their lives before Sammy's birth. A subplot concerning a megalomaniacal school administrator complicates matters unnecessarily, and the optimistic resolution feels a bit pat. But the details of the brothers' survival on the lam will rivet teens, including many reluctant readers, and Harmon compellingly renders wary, brittle Ian, particularly the tension between his admirable motivations and his self-destructive impulses. Jennifer MattsonCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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