December 12, 2013

Dear Life, You Suck by Scott Blagden

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , at 1:58 am by suebe2

Dear Life, You SuckDear Life,
I want out.
See you on the flipside.

The truth is that Cricket Cherpin has reasons to be disgruntled.  He’s the oldest kid in a group home in small town Maine.  Small town Maine is not the best place to grow up parentless, poor, with a name like Cricket and scars on your face.  Cricket’s tells himself that he’s making the best of his bad situation but the adults in his life don’t seem to agree.

Mother Mary, head of the group home, is definitely Mother Mary Moral.  She surrounds Cricket with rules and regulations and a lengthy list of shoulds.  She also has an endless supply of chores to keep him occupied until he turns 18.  That’s when he has to leave the home whether he has someplace to go or not.

The Caretaker is what his name suggests.  The caretaker for the home.  He has taken Cricket under his wing and lets him help with various repairs.  That’s how he developed the skills that Mother Mary so often puts to use.  The one skill she ignores is boxing.  The fact is that Cricket is good with his fists and Caretaker hopes that this will be a way for Cricket to support himself in just a few short months.

Then his English teacher gives the assignment.  Write a letter to someone you are mad at but cannot confront.  She is giving her class a chance to complain about something that is out of their control and about which they feel powerless.  Sure, Cricket has a lot to complain about but there are things he doesn’t talk about to anyone.  Besides, she asked for it so why not mess with the teacher a bit.  He’s convinced that his answer will send her into a tizzy when she reads that he is contemplating suicide.

But the problem is that Cricket is thinking about suicide.  It is one way to deal with turning 18.  Or he could become a drug dealer like his only friend, Grubs.

Thus ends my discussion of the plot, because I simply don’t want to give anything away.

I will admit that I had a really difficult time getting into this book.  Cricket is as sharp tongued as he is sharp witted, tossing about a creative patter that he weaves together as he talks.  It took awhile for me to wrap my head around his own particular form of communication.

But Blagden has created a character who keeps people at a distance for a reason.  If they don’t know him and they don’t get close, they don’t have as much opportunity to hurt him and the scars on his face tell you all you need to know.  Someone at some time hurt Cricket and hurt him badly.  By the end of the book, I was firmly in Cricket’s corner, cheering him on.

Blagden has created a realistic teenage boy who is abrasive and arrogant and more than a little annoying.  But he is true to his friends and is no harder on everyone else than he is on himself.  Young readers will appreciate this character for just these reasons as well as his willingness to take on the world of annoying adults, put them in their place and do things in his own way.


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