A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Flush is an environmental mystery by Carl Hiassen set in the Florida Keys. The ends seem to justify the means as the heroes/good guys, young and old, behave recklessly, often stupidly, and at times illegally -- all for a good cause: stopping a corrupt casino boat owner who's been dumping raw sewage into the waters near their home. There's moderate swearing and a fair amount of potty humor. A boy is beaten by bullies, threatened with a gun, and chased by a hired goon. A girl bites people hard enough to draw blood. Teens and adults drink; a teen smokes a cigar.
What's the story?
Noah and Abbey's father is in jail for sinking a casino boat that he claims has been dumping raw sewage into the waters near their home in the Florida Keys. He has no proof, the owner of the boat denies it, and everyone in town thinks he's a crackpot. Their mother is going to divorce him unless he shapes up and gets his anger and impulsive behavior under control. So it's up to Noah and Abbey to prove that their father was right. But with everyone mad at their father, hired goons guarding the refloated boat, members of local law enforcement paid off by the owner, and the owner's son beating up on Noah, getting that proof looks well-nigh impossible. That is, until Noah comes up with a plan that involves a tattooed barmaid, a stolen motorboat, and 34 bottles of fuchsia food coloring.
Is it any good?
Part mystery, part caper, this environmental novel has action, humor, a bit of suspense, and some interesting characters. Flush is like a Hardy Boys book with potty humor. There are holes in the plot big enough to float a casino boat through, starting with why the owner is so determined to dump his bilges, thereby polluting the beach his own son swims in, instead of pumping them into a sewer tank. It's supposedly because the owner is a cheapskate, but pumping the sewage properly would presumably cost less than his hired goons, not to mention renovating his boat and paying $10,000 in fines. Bad guys are bad guys for no apparent reason, and good guys lie, steal, and vandalize, while their hearts are in the right place.
The resolution is unlikely, and there are some whopping coincidences, but if you try not to think too hard, it rolls along nicely and there's plenty of fun to be had here.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the fight to save the environment in Flush. What peaceful ways are there to protect the environment that don't involve illegal action?
Do the ends justify the means in some cases? is it OK to break the law if it's for a good cause?
Do you think the father's actions were justified? What other choices could he have made?
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