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Rats Saw God
A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that though the book presents Steve's pot-smoking as self-destructive, it portrays his heavy underage drinking as a high school norm. The writing-assignment structure isn't very original, but the antics of the G.O.D. group and the treatment of timeless adolescent issues give this its freshness and power. But even for young teens this has some pretty raw scenes.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
Given an assignment to write a 100-page paper in order to graduate, eighteen-year-old Steve York retells his high school career -- from delirious fun with a group of happy misfits to a decline into bitterness and alienation, and a hopeful recovery.
In Houston, straight-A high school student Steve York's biggest problems were getting along with his famous astronaut father and asking out the girl of his dreams -- a fellow member of a group of intellectual nonconformists called the Grace Order of Dadaists (G.O.D.). In San Diego, where he has fled to live with his remarried mother after a disastrous junior year, Steve is a certified \"stoner,\" an alienated pot-smoker and class-cutter. .
How did Steve get from there to here? Alternating between past and present, Steve narrates his high school history in the form of a writing assignment for Jeff DeMouy, a sympathetic guidance counselor willing to give Steve another chance to earn the English credit he needs in order to graduate. There unfolds a story about how high school relationships can shift and change -- sometimes irreparably, sometimes for the better.
Is it any good?
Part The Breakfast Club, part Animal House, this funny how-I-survived-high-school novel reveals tender truths between hilarious one-liners. On the surface, nothing that happens in Steve York's life is terribly credible, starting with the fact that his father was "the third or fourth man to walk on the moon." Supposedly a group of artistic, hip nonconformists, Steve's high school club, G.O.D., includes the requisite jock, the editor of the school paper, the lead in the school play, and the best-looking boy in school.
Yet the central relationships in Steve's life -- with Doug, the founder of G.O.D.; with Dub, his first love, who relieves him of his virginity and breaks his heart; and with his father, "the astronaut" -- all change in believable ways. Friendships mature; first love often isn't forever; and parents don't fit into tidy pigeonholes. However over the top the plot may seem, Rob Thomas' original language makes it seem real.