The Art of Dumpster Diving

Turner. Mar. 2020. 224p. pap. $14.99. ISBN 9781684424627.
Gr 9 Up–This dialogue-driven exploration of coming of age in a small town in Louisiana will have readers asking for more. James and his little brother Danny go through a series of unfortunate events over a very short period of time. Suddenly, they find themselves all alone—and about to be split up and sent to foster homes if they don’t do something about it. Enter Gabriel, the oversized, over-loud, and outspoken neighbor who has always seemed a little “off” (or a lot different). James can’t turn to anyone else for advice so he goes along with Gabriel’s plan to ensure he and Danny can stay together. It’s crazy but it beats dumpster diving for cold fries for dinner. This coming-of-age story pits the boys against all of the bad things that befall them, and gives readers hope as the characters struggle, hang on, and become stronger for it. The lyrical prose style is reminiscent of Delia Owens’s Where the Crawdads Sing but the suspension of disbelief and ability to connect to the wacky characters is what readers will find most engaging about the story. While horrible things happen, it is ultimately an uplifting look at coming to grips with reality and coming home...wherever that is and whomever that’s with.
VERDICT Recommended for libraries that serve teens and tweens, particularly those with offbeat home lives.

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