Monday, October 11, 2010


by Gary Paulsen

One Thumb Up and One Thumb Down.

Paulsen is a great story teller and this book is no exception.  But this book left me with a hollow feeling in my heart.

I've heard periodically since moving to this area about this book and the controversy associated with it throughout the years.  I've heard from several local people that the books is somewhat autobiographical, with the fictional town of Twin Falls being a pseudonym for Paulsen's hometown of Thief River Falls, MN.  Many of the characters and incidents, apparently, have basis in real people and happenings in Thief River Falls in the days during which Paulsen grew up.  The character telling the story lived through many things that Paulsen lived through.  Paulsen faced a libel suit over this book; after going all the way to the Minnesota Supreme Court, he was exonerated.  But apparently it almost spelled an early end his writing career because he was so disheartened by the accusation.  How can a writer write about things he or she has no experience with, after all?

The story is told by a thirteen year year old boy whose parents are violent drunks.  He tells of his friendship with a mild mannered drunk, a local police officer, and his time at two different foster homes, his first girlfriend and his early jobs.  The story ends abruptly after a crushing loss in the boys life.

Again, excellent story telling.  But very sad.

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