Friday, November 13, 2009


Thomas, Rob. Rats Saw God. Simon Pulse, 2007 (c1996). 202 p. PBK $6.99 ISBN 978-1416938972

SUMMARY: "In hopes of graduating, Steve York agrees to complete a hundred-page writing assignment which helps him to sort out his relationship with his famous astronaut father and the events that changed him from promising student to troubled teen."

RISKS: Descriptions of and references to marijuana and teen alcohol use, descriptions of sexual activity, vulgar language

EVALUATION: The writing in this memoir-style novel is perhaps too articulate and mature for a teenager to have written on his own, but the author manages to introduce a few important plot elements to account for the brilliant prose. Specifically, the narrator, Steve, is endowed with a kind of genius vocabulary and remarkably mature voice (his SAT score, we are told, is incredible). Once one decides to go along with that assumption, the apt descriptions and engaging plot are very entertaining. The adult language also seems to match some of the adult themes of the novel, including the drama of Steve's relationship with his father, which is complicated by his father's inability to express his emotions.

READER'S ANNOTATION: For Steve and his friends, is starting an art club devoted to Dadaism, where everything means nothing, just an attempt to cover up the search for a meaningful relationship with those closest to them?

TOPICS: divorce; high school; family relationships; sex & sexuality; substance abuse; philosophy; writing

AWARDS: Retro-Printz Award for books published in 1996, 2003; ALA Best Books For Young Adults, 1997; School Library Journal Best Books of the Year, 1996

Ages 13-17

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