Things aren't going so well for Doug Swieteck. His brother is off fighting in the Vietnam War, which has his sweet mom worried and his rough father even more brutal than usual. His dad has trouble keeping a job, so now they have to move to "stupid Maryville," a tiny town in New York where his dad's friend has found a place for him to work. At first, Doug hates the place. There's nothing to do and he misses his old friends. But then he starts getting to know people. He meets spunky Lil Spencer, whose father hires Doug to work as a delivery boy in his deli. He befriends Mr. Powell, a local librarian, who introduces him to drawing. He even gets a babysitting gig for a broad of feisty kids and buddies up with an elderly woman who is writing a play. Through these relationships, Doug discovers new parts of himself and learns to stand up for the things that are important to him.
This is definitely one of the best books I've read so far this year. From the first page, I loved Doug's voice and his goofy observations. I really like his snark and how he talks to audience sometimes. There's the dark stuff in this story (the war, Doug's abusive father)--which I like because it gives us a lot to think about-- but it totally cracked me up as well. The pacing works well, too. Even though there's not a lot of action per se, all of the little things Doug goes through combined with the engaging narration equals a book that I couldn't put down. Plus there's an awesome librarian! What more could one want from a book?