Punkzilla by Adam Rapp
This short book details fourteen-year-old Jamie’s journey across the country, trying to get to Memphis, Tennessee before his older brother succumbs to cancer. Jamie, also known by Punkzilla, tells his story through a series of letters to his brother Peter (“P”), letters he never actually sends. Punkzilla and P both left home at an early age to escape their ultra conservative military dad, P leaving because he was gay and the dad couldn’t accept it, and Punkzilla running away from the military school the family had made him attend.
Jamie has escaped the life of a street kid in Portland, Oregon when he finds out his brother is dying, and seems more than content to leave behind his life as an Ipod thief and occasional druggie. The author’s depiction of the street life these kids live is very realistic, sometimes brutally so. Despite this somewhat depressing beginning to his story, Punkzilla meets a number of people on his road trip who go out of their way to be kind to him.
I found this book hard to put down, and found myself rooting for Punkzilla to make smart choices and get to his brother before it was too late. Although sad, the ending was still optomistic.