Yes, I have been gone for a couple days.
This was not only due to the fact that my son came back home from college for the long weekend. We also, for the first time ever, lost phone and internet service at el Rancho de Drew.
It was probably a good thing, anyway.
But yesterday, I received a copy of the Bulletin for the Center of Children's Books upcoming December review of Stick. A very nice review, in which, according to my editor, the last lines pretty much say it all:
Smith, Andrew Stick. Feiwel, 2011 [304p] ISBN $17.99 Reviewed from galleys R Gr. 9-12
Born with only one ear, Stick has grown used to the teasing he endures at school. Worse, however, is the abuse he and his brother endure at home at the hands of both their mother and father, who express their displeasure with savage beatings and by locking their sons in a room bare of all save a cot and a bucket. Stick and Bosten have each other, though, and they each have a close friend—Stick has Emily, and Bosten has Paul, in a relationship that is more than just friendship. It turns out that they also have an aunt, and when they go to her house for their Easter vacation they realize how different home life might be. It’s hard to go back home, especially when they find out that their mother has moved out, leaving them with their father, whom Stick realizes has been sexually abusing Bosten as well as beating them. When Bosten and Paul are caught in a compromising act, Bosten has no choice but to run away, and Stick soon follows, only to run into more trouble than he left at home. This tragic story has at its heart a solid core of brotherly love and loyalty that survives even the worst of situations; it’s those situations that are exceptionally difficult to read about and conceptualize, with their harsh and gritty realism. Aunt Dahlia seems almost too good to be true if readers don’t think too hard about the fact that she hasn’t tried to see the boys for the first sixteen years of their lives; however, it’s enough that she offers a safe haven for them when they finally make their escape. The prose is strong and evocative, lapsing into imagistic poetry at times to reveal the intensity of Stick’s emotions. Readers should be prepared to have their hearts broken by these vulnerable, utterly lovable brothers.
So, thank you for that nice review, BCCB.