A new school, a new house, and no Rosco. This is the painful world thirteen-year-old Travis Roberts is meeting. As he opens his locker, a shoe slams into the metal next to him and he finds a sneaker...a really nice sneaker lying there. Obviously there is more to this story and Travis, with a heart the size of Texas, eventually finds the owner of that shoe and gives him back his stolen property. Travis is quiet. Travis is a big, strong kid whose temper can get the best of him especially because since his father crashed into a tree, his mother is gone, and now he's living life with his alcoholic grandfather. The biggest blow of all is that his beloved dog, Rosco, the one thing he has to hold onto in his lonely world, has gone missing.
Velveeta is hiding out in Calvin's trailer where she keeps the scarf collection that Calvin gave her when his wife died. Calvin cared about Velveeta. He isn't a relative, thank God, because Velveeta's relatives tend to let her down. Her mother enjoys a refrigerator full of beer and her mood shifts vary between a sorry drunk and an angry drunk. But, Calvin always cared. Calvin kept Velveeta safe and gave her someone who asked about her homework and wanted to know how her day was going. Now, even Calvin is gone.
This is a brilliant story about two young people who have Masters Degrees in Loss. Velveeta handles her life lot in life with carefully placed trust, incredible wit and a heart that wants to help. She "gets" Travis on day one when she sees him take that shoe back to its rightful owner.
Told in alternating voices, and paying homage to the wondrous THE BOOK THIEF by Markus Zusak, the story carefully winds its way through the pain and suffering of both kids with Velveeta offering flashes of humor and sophistication and Travis reaching toward hope and forgiveness. It doesn't miss a beat. 226 pages Ages 11 and up
Recommended by: Barb
Travis has a secret he wants no one to know. He can not read. Along comes new girl in school, Velveeta, who is determined to find out. They both have class with teacher, Mr. McQueen. They befriend a bright nerd loser Bradley Whistler. The trio survive daily life in school each hiding a personal secret. Not for reluctant reader. (Even though main character is struggling to learn how to read, there is little action to catch attention of others with reading difficulties.)
Reviewed by: Frank Hodge, Bookseller Emeritus, New York, USA