A Powerful, Deeply-Moving PG-rated Read
• This book, although it deals with some hard things, is very beautifully and tastefully written. One example is that Doug mentions that his father has "quick hands."
• I am incredibly sensitive in the stories I read and the movies I watch (most of the movies I own are 'G' or 'PG'), and I not only finished this book, but I even recommended it to my youngest sister, and I am SCRUPULOUS about what I recommend to her. This book contains some of the most powerful messages about overcoming hard things and rising above them, and of letting the pieces be put back together.
• Violence: There is a flashback scene where Doug's father takes him to get a tattoo on his back when he (his father) is drunk, and a scene where Doug's brother gets into trouble, and tries to explain himself, but before he could "my father was on him" (NOT in a sexual way) and that is basically the extent of the reference to abuse. Also the fights Doug gets into are explained as statistics: Ex: Stats for lunch: two fights, two losses. Stats for after school, three fights, two losses, one broken up by a teacher.
• The book ends on a hopeful note in every aspect. Doug's father comes around, and almost everything is put back together. This story is really a story about a boy who sees his life in Audubon's bird prints, and who overcomes his challenges and difficulties and discovers who he wants to be. It will make you laugh and cry, and I think it is one of the best books to demonstrate how to rise above struggles in the home, and give the people we love time to change.
• After reading a story about a subject as penetrating and hard to cover tastefully as abusive family situations, I have come to completely trust Gary Schmidt, the author. That is a rare honor by me.
What other families should know
Great role models
Too much violence
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking