Scat – Carl Hiaasen
In theory, this is Hiaasen’s attempt to write a novel for older teens.
But based on his success of screwball stories for adults, always using some very real possible people and scenarios from Florida, the only thing that’s different is the lack of sex and language.
Otherwise, Scat is pure Hiaasen. Set in the Florida Everglades, the novel slowly shows the ecological damage from humans by highlighting the lives of residents, children and the rare Florida panther.
Something of a follow-up and homage to The Monkey Wrench Gang (which is referenced throughout), Scat explains the lives of teens Nick and Marta – struggling with high school and personal challenges like a father injured in Iraq – after they stumble on a crooked businessman’s attempt to drill oil in a protected swamp.
It’s Hiaasen, so it’s safe to say the good guys win. But the plot goes all over the place first, always reminding people that often, one person can make all the difference. Teens and adults alike would do well to pay heed to that belief.
Where’s My Wand – Eric Poole
Eric Poole was a lonely oddball growing up in the Midwest in the 1970s. His friendlessness – and home life with a mom with serious OCD issues – sends him to seek magic to make life better.
Endora from Bewitched is a good role model, as is God, since his Baptist upbringing makes it clear he’s among the special and chosen. His coming-of-age memories are self-effacing, somewhat clever and a naked look at a boy who didn’t really understand himself at all.
What’s missing is a real sense of how anything that happened to Poole made him who he is today. He’s clear in his memoir that he was a sensitive boy, often bullied. Yet now as an adult, his book contains some vicious descriptions of his few friends (who as you might guess were not the most interesting or gorgeous). This is sensitive?
Poole has gone on to become an out gay marketing executive at Fox Television who clearly relishes his ability for Paul Lynde lines (to keep with our 70s theme). There is some humor here. But not much real introspection.