Sunday, August 8, 2010

Can't Get There from Here - Todd Strasser

When it comes to books about heart-wrenching subjects such as drug abuse, poverty, homelessness, and mental illness, I'm always worry that in the quest to be shocking, that it may be too easy for readers to discount the realities presented by the stories. Strasser's Young Adult novel, Can't Get There from Here tells the story of a gang of young street kids doing what they can to survive in New York City. They each have their own story of families that couldn't take care of them, didn't want them, or otherwise mistreated them. Their home lives are so terrible, that digging through garbage cans for food and risking sexual and physical assault looking for a place to sleep, is safer than going back to their parents. This short book is filled with so much tragic sadness, it's hard to believe that there are children out there actually living these lives. And that's my only problem with this book - that when one bad thing after another happens, it becomes too easy to say, "well, it's just fiction." But, to the extent this novel opens the eyes of young adults and shows them that there are people their own age living out there on the streets, and more importantly, that there are organizations that hopefully can actually help, I think it's definitely a good thing.

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