Friday, January 18, 2008


Finding Stinko

by Michael de Guzman.

This interesting and fast-moving book centres around Newboy, abandoned at birth by his street kid mother, in hopes of him having a better life. Instead, he ends up in the foster care system, running away from one so-called home after another, and at some point, becomes mute without physical cause. Finally, he decides to make a serious break for it. One of those issues books? yes and no.

Yes, he learns that the street is a tough place, gets beaten and knocked around a bit, goes hungry some, gets recaptured once, and so on. Yes, the evils of some of his parents make the whoel foster system sound terrible, and running away no better.

But this book has heart. Newboy finds a ventriloquist's dummy, dubs him Stinko, and finds himself oddly able to speak through him. He makes a friend or two along the way among street kids, helping a couple of them and getting help in return. He figures out he can make a tiny bit of money using Stinko as a street performer. He meets a man who feeds him and teaches him to dance. Along the way, he bonds with a couple of kids so strongly that they not only rescue him, but the trio is going to set off for warmer climes. And somewhere in the midst of it all, he finds his own voice.

So this book is about abuse and life on the streets, but it is also about connecting, growing, finding yourself, the danger and the kindness of strangers, and forging your own family of friends. It was, it turns out, a pretty good read.

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