Racing the Past by Sis Deans
Henry Holt and Company
I.L. 8th and up
I. Synopsis- Ricky’s dad died as he swerved off Dead Man’s Curve while he was drunk. A kid at school said that it was the best thing that he had ever done for the family. Even though Ricky agrees, he doesn’t like the kid saying that in front of his younger brother, Matt. They are both sent to the principal’s office. Ricky doesn’t want Mr. Daniels to call in his mother, for she has been dealing with enough, so he makes a deal. He will avoid Bugsie, the kid he got in a fight with, and he won’t be sent down to Mr. Daniels’ office again so that Mr. Daniels won’t call his mom. But, if he does get in another fight, then Mr. Daniels will call in his mom. It is about 3.5 miles from the school to his house and on the way there was the Murder House. An old friendly man was murdered there the year before and since then it has been abandoned.
II. Evaluation of Work as Literature
-Character- The characterization in this book is pretty weak, in my opinion. Yes, there are some very strong characters such as Ricky, his brother, and their mother. Even their father, who is dead at the beginning of the book you get to know pretty well by their memories and their descriptions. Even though you “get to know” these characters, there really isn’t any development in them nor is there any change. The only character that really changes is Ricky and even that is minute with him realizing that he enjoys running. There is a slight change in him and his brother when they finally realize that their father is dead, but his brother still sleeps with the frying pan and still won’t go into the house without someone.
III. Personal Comments- I think that this is a good book to help young adults if they have abusive home lives, but other then that, I didn’t really enjoy it. The language was dumbed down, yet at the same time it used some pretty strong swear words. There was even mention of boys giving each other “the finger”. That was very confusing. It’s like the author couldn’t decide how these boys would/should act and would make them seem juvenile in one case and in the next have them swearing like a sailor. If I wanted my kids to read it, I would re-write it or something.