Tough times fall on the Wolfe household. With Mr. Wolfe unemployed, and Mrs. Wolfe working overtime; the Wolfe siblings are helpless, and each copes differently. With Cameron and Rube, it’s involves getting into shenanigans like betting at the dog track. But when rumors of their sister circulates at school, Rube starts a fierce fight– one that gets unexpected attention. Suddenly Rube, along with Cameron, are thrust into the underworld of boxing. While the two brothers vow to watch each other’s backs, Cameron feels a change coming on Rube, and he’s not sure if it’s the good sort of change.
Personal Take: If Zusak’s first book seemed like a solid for such an aimless story, the second installment more than makes up for it. Cameron has much more substance, along with all the characters mentioned. There’s something beautiful and desperate in Cameron’s voice that I love, and his growth is subtle but deeply felt. I also love how he’s contrasted against Rube, and his view of his brother is so pure and heartfelt. The story itself is much more solid and concrete, and not as aimless as Underdog.
That Zusak could make us sympathize with such grungy characters is a testament to his talent.
Audience: Older teens and adults, for some language.