From the Back Cover:
“The shrinkadinks think I have a screw loose. Ain’t playing with a full deck. Whacked-out wiring. Missing marbles.”
Irreverent, foulmouthed seventeen-year-old Cricket is the oldest ward in a Catholic boys’ home in Maine—and his life sucks. With prospects for the future that range from professional fighter to professional drug dealer, he seems doomed to a life of “criminal rapscallinity.” In fact, things look so bleak that Cricket can’t help but wonder if his best option is one final cliff dive into the great unknown. But then Wynona Bidaban steps into his world, and Cricket slowly realizes that maybe, just maybe, life doesn’t totally suck.
Cricket Cherpin (yes, that is his real name) has been living in the Naskeag Home for Boys for eight years, ever since social services took him away from the miserable existence he was living with his abusive, drug-addicted parents. But even though he lives with nuns and four dozen younger boys who look up to him, walking the straight and narrow doesn't come easily for Cricket. He's a smart kid, and achingly vulnerable inside, and the nuns and his principal have been more forgiving than most when it comes to his penchant for fighting, drinking, and smoking dope. But with his eighteenth birthday looming nearer, Cricket's time at the home is drawing to an end, and he finds himself standing on the edge of the black void of his future, contemplating the only options he perceives are available to him, and the pickings are slim. As the beginning of his senior year starts going downhill fast, three different women begin to work their influence over him, his mother superior, his English teacher, and the girl of his dreams, and each will play a role in helping Cricket overcome the constraints of a crappy childhood to discover self-worth and embrace the bonds of family and friendship.
The overall tone of the story is more amusing than serious, even though the subject matter is rather heavy. It's also on the shorter side, so it reads fast, which may contribute to my feeling that the whole story was a light treatment of what could have potentially been a much deeper story. I would have liked to see it explored with a little more grit and depth, perhaps giving a bit more weight to the issues of addiction, spirituality, and redemption. But Cricket's teenage outsider voice is immediately likeable and gets a big thumbs up, and I found myself smiling at his wise-ass observations more than once, although his overuse of liggity-lingo grated at times. He's the kind of character a reader can really form an attachment to, and I really liked his story while I was reading it, but looking back afterward, it wasn't really powerful enough to make a long-lasting impression and earn a spot on my keeper shelf with my other YA faves..
My Rating: 3.5 Stars out of 5
**Please Note: This review references an advance copy received from the publisher through the Amazon Vine program. These are my honest and unbiased opinions, and I was not compensated in any other way for reviewing this book.