No Place

Common Sense Media says

Timely tale about homeless teen offers no simple solutions.

Age(i)

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Quality(i)

 

What parents need to know

Educational value

No Place will certainly inspire teens to think about economics, homelessness, and poverty in America. The book presents facts and questions to spark some critical thinking.

Positive messages

There are no easy answers presented here, but by creating a likable character, the author helps readers realize that homelessness can happen to anyone. The story also helps readers think through how complicated it can be to try to escape poverty. For example, Dan's dad has trouble finding work because he's depressed.

Positive role models

Dan matures through his experience as a homeless teen, learning to think about how his family's situation relates to the larger economy. He also learns to accept generosity -- and to apologize when he's wrong. 

Violence

A brutal beating puts a man in a coma. A homeless camp is destroyed. Dan grabs a boy in the hallway out of anger. Dan's young cousins beat up another boy.

Sex

Dan's friends take him to a Hooters to cheer him up. Dan admits that he started dating his girlfriend because "she was a hot, popular chick." Some kisses.

Language

A few uses of "son of a bitch," "bastard," and the like.

Consumerism

Some brands such as Starbucks, 7-Eleven, Red Bull, Coke, Hooters, Land Rover, BMW, iPad, and Subway.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

A gang member who gives Dan some valuable information is described as smelling like alcohol and cigarettes. Dan's dad drinks beer, and his uncle drinks a big glass of whiskey.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that No Place tells the story of a middle-class teen who becomes homeless. It's sure to make teens think about economics, homelessness, and poverty in America. Some gritty, violent scenes include a description of a brutal beating that puts the victim in a coma. Sexual content is limited to a few kisses; protagonist Dan admits that his and his girlfriend's mutual attraction is based on their looks. He also visits a Hooters with his friends to cheer up. Some adults drink.

Parents say

Kids say

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What's the story?

After Dan's parents lose their home, the family decides to try moving to Dignityville, an experimental homeless camp being managed by the town. A popular baseball star, Dan is in disbelief about his new situation, which involves sharing a tent with his parents and showering at school; but he does get free dinner at the camp, and his mom even helps start a community garden there. Unfortunately, not everyone in town is happy about Dignityville, which looks like it might be permanent: When one of the leaders, a friend of Dan's, is severely beaten, the teen starts to piece together the crime -- and can't believe who's behind it.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

NO PLACE will wake readers up to the realities of poverty and homelessness -- and provide some insight into the way the American economy works. Teens will learn about these serious subjects through Dan's story, as well as through facts and questions peppered into the story line. For example, Dan's government and politics teacher asks, "Is it right to round up all the homeless and put them in one place?"  

Readers may be less enthralled by the conspiracy Dan uncovers about a powerful man's plan to destroy Dignityville. This part of the book feels contrived and adds an unnecessary layer to Dan's story. Even so, there's plenty to think about in this timely tale; parents and teachers might  use No Place to encourage their teens to think about our interconnected economy and the best way to help families escape poverty.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about homelessness and poverty. Were you surprised by Dan's statement that nearly "a third of our country is living at or near the poverty level"? Do you know anyone who's struggling with this situation?

  • Do you think a city-supported homeless camp like Dignityville is a good idea? 

  • Dan gets some support from school, like free breakfast and lunch. What else do you think he and other teens in his situation need?

Book details

Author:Todd Strasser
Genre:Coming of Age
Topics:Great boy role models, High school, Misfits and underdogs
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:Simon & Schuster
Publication date:January 28, 2014
Number of pages:272
Publisher's recommended age(s):12 - 18
Available on:Hardback, iBooks, Kindle, Nook

This review of No Place was written by

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  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Quality

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Educator and Parent Written byDreanda December 6, 2014
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