Seventeen-year-old Austin is dying and convinces his best friend to spend a weekend driving him around Tacoma and Pierce County to visit friends and acquaintances; he has messages for everyone. Conveniently, each one of his contacts has a problem that Austin knows about, and Austin knows just what to say to try to help this person or that person overcome their particular difficulty. Also conveniently, the entire spectrum of teenage problems is represented in his circle of associates. This journey is his final farewell to everybody, and he sincerely wants his intimates to see themselves as he sees them.
Megan Bostic’s first novel has a very thin layer of altruism, with a small nugget of mystery, surrounding a core of very dark, very disturbing situations that her high-school-age characters all seem to think are perfectly normal. And there really isn’t a plot at all. Yes, the protagonist makes some small difference in the lives of some of those that he visits, but there is no real development of any character. I picked up this book because of the local flavor, and I sincerely regret it. I am amazed that this work was even published; it is the poster piece for the difference between talent and ability: a person that can write is not necessarily a writer.
Rated: DIRT. Absolutely unbelievably foul language and first-person viewpoint of teenage sexual intercourse. Yes, yes, everyone assumes that all teenagers speak and behave like this, but those of us who actually spend time with real teens (that are not our own children) have a little bit different perspective. The subjects of the discussions between Austin and his friends are also pretty hard to swallow; can one group of teens REALLY have ALL of those kinds of experiences? Is our society truly that twisted?