No Place

272p. S & S. Jan. 2014. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781442457218; ebk. $10.99. ISBN 9781442457232. LC 2012043701.
Gr 7–10—High school senior Dan Halprin is the star pitcher on the baseball team, has been offered a scholarship to Rice University, and is dating wealthy Talia. When his parents lose their jobs as a stockbroker and youth athletics coach, and then their home, the family is forced to move into Dignityville, a tent community in the center of town. Humiliated and angry, Dan struggles to maintain his self-confidence, relationships, and aspirations. When townspeople complain about providing land and services for the homeless, Dignityville becomes a target for threats and violence. Just as Dan begins to understand the attitudes and dreams of other Dignityville residents, he learns that his despondent father has been coerced by Talia's father, a local real-estate magnate, into helping destroy the tent community. In the end, forgiveness, an upturn in work opportunities, and the generosity of neighbors help the Halprins get back on their feet. This compelling social commentary challenges stereotypes about homeless people and offers a look at homelessness from the perspective of a middle-class teen. Diverse characters, easy dialogue, realistic school and community settings, believable tension, and references to John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath fuel Strasser's well-paced, engaging narrative. Coping with their personal financial catastrophe, wanting to stay in their familiar town, finding work, accepting charity, and maintaining self-respect are issues that weigh heavily on Dan and his parents. Readers will be drawn into this contemporary story.—Gerry Larson, formerly at Durham School of the Arts, NC
Dan may have a popular, hot girlfriend and the promise of a baseball scholarship, but his parents have lost their jobs. His family eventually relocates to a controversial homeless tent camp known as Dignityville. Dan's circumstances and his worldviews slowly change in this well-paced problem novel full of current social commentary and with a gripping climax.

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