The parents in many Young Adult novels are self-involved, negligent people who may provide food and shelter but pretty much expect their teenage children to raise themselves. Or expect the kids to tend to the parents’ needs. This book takes that problem to a whole new level.
Ronney is a 15-yr-old boy in a mixed-race household. He has a hard-working bank manager mother, a little sister, and a father who tried two years earlier to kill himself in the family’s living room. He ended up wounding himself in the shoulder instead and after the attempt completely withdrew from all his normal responsibilities as husband and father. The mother was already medicating herself before that ever happened. Luckily Ronney has access to a couple of credit cards because it falls on him to assume duties his parents ignore.
He misses school to attend to them sometimes. He is mindful of his little sister, a friend of hers, and two personal friends of his own. He gets very angry with his parents, reflected in snarky comments. They don’t give him credit for all he does or compute the emotional needs he and his sister have. Pretty much, the parents are hurting and selfish and that is paramount to them.
There is a lot about gun rights and gun control in this book. A local person with a collection of exotic animals releases them all and then blows his brains out. Throughout the book, until they are hunted down, various dangerous animals kill people, attempt to kill people, and eventually are killed themselves. People beat each other up. It’s a dangerous world.
There is a lot of bad language, primarily of the hell-shit-damn variety, but the main character, Ronney, is under extreme stress. There are incidents of subtle racism which Ronney handles admirably well.
The author sets up and develops an important question regarding depression versus personal responsibility but fails to shed useful light on it in the end. The father saves his kids from being et up by a tiger. Right. Then all that has gone before seems to be forgiven. Talk about deus ex machina.