Thursday, September 2, 2010

Do Not Pass Go

Do Not Pass Go by Kirkpatrick Hill
Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2007
ISBN: 9781416914006
229 pages
4 out of 5

Deet's world turns upside down when his father is arrested for drug use.  It doesn't seem possible that kind, caring Dad could be a criminal!  After all, he only took the pills to stay awake so he could work two jobs.  Now what will happen?  How will Deet be able to face his classmates?  Where will they get money?  And most importantly, will Dad be okay in prison?

Hurt, angry, and ashamed, Deet doesn't want to visit his father in jail.  But when Mom goes back to work, Deet starts visiting Dad after school.  It's frightening at first, but as he adjusts to the routine, Deet begins to see the prisoners as people with stories of their own, just like his dad.  Deet soon realizes that prison isn't the terrifying place of movies and nightmares.  In fact, Dad's imprisonment leads Deet to make a  few surprising discoveries--about his father, his friends, and himself.

With moving realism, Kirkpatrick Hill brings to light the tumultuous experience of having a parent in jail in this honest and stirring story of a young man forced to grow up quickly.

This is one instance where I feel the above description does not do the novel justice.  Most readers realize that these blurbs are meant to get your interest without giving away everything, but there are many more elements to this story that are more interesting than Deet visiting his father in jail.  Don't get me wrong, the approach the novel takes to this subject is very compassionate and could be helpful to someone who's parent/other relative/friend has landed in jail for a non-violent crime. 

The novel is set in a small town in Alaska, so when someone gets arrested everyone recognizes the name in the paper.  This is something Deet is terribly afraid of, but Deet is terribly afraid of quite a few things.  Deet's introduction actually establishes him as being a bit OCD and critical of the way his parents manage their lives.  As the story progresses, Deet learns a lot about what it takes to keep up a household while keeping up with school. 

One of my favorite elements from this book is the conversation between Deet and his English teacher.  Throughout the novel Deet keeps a quotations notebook for class.  He selects quotations and writes about that quote, and his English teacher responds. It's is through this "conversation" that Deet reveals what the experience has taught him. 

As might be noticeable from my disconnected thoughts above, I'm having trouble writing about this book.  I really enjoyed it.  It's a book that I want to tell all about so to not ruin it I'm trying to keep my fingers in check.

This is a 2010-2011 Sunshine State Young Reader's Award nominee.

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