Killing Time in Crystal City

240p. S. & S. Jan. 2015. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781442440111. LC 2013043299.
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
After fighting with his father, Kevin flees to Crystal City, where he meets fellow runaways Molly and Stacey. The three quickly bond, spending their days at a grimy beach and meandering around the city. But soon Kevin falls in with a rougher crowd. Flashbacks unfurl the events leading up to Kevin and his father's fight in this quiet and slow story.

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