Thursday, May 22, 2008

Double Click for Trouble

Woodworth, Chris. 2008. Double-Click for Trouble.

From the flap:

Eddie McCall is a good kid. He does his homework, picks up around the house, and cooks dinner for his mom when she has to work late at a Chicago hotel. Then Eddie's best friend, Whip, shows him a printout from the Internet--a picture of a full-grown, honest-to-gosh buck-naked woman--and suddenly Eddie can't seem to think about anything else. If only there were a man around he could talk to--but for all of Eddie's thirteen years, his father has been a mystery, absent and unknown.

Try as he might, Eddie can't stay away from the computer. He knows his mom will be upset if she sees the sites he's visiting. Still, he sure doesn't expect her to ship him off to her hometown of Sheldon, Indiana, to live with his great-uncle Peavey for an entire month. Peavey isn't exactly the father figure Eddie's been looking for. He spits tobacco juice into a can, calls a toilet a "commode," and certainly doesn't own a computer. He's never even been on a date!

As it turns out, however, both Peavey McCall and Sheldon, Indiana, hold some very surprising secrets...
There were parts of Double Click for Trouble that I loved, just really really loved. Then there were a few elements that didn't quite work for me. Slight irritants in the plot that just kept me from falling deeply in love with the book. Still, I must say that I'm rather fond of this book. It may not be L-O-V-E with fireworks, but I still liked it plenty. And I loved, loved, loved the ending.

The characters. Loved them for the most part. Loved Eddie. Loved Uncle Peavey. Loved Della. Loved Ronnie (Veronica). There were some other characters that I liked but would need to know more in order to love. I never really got to know the Mom enough or Whip enough for that matter. I was intrigued by Whip's story, however. His deep-and-sensitive and vulnerable side that readers get just a few glimpses of now and then. In my opinion, the novel's top strength is in the characters. The developing relationship between Eddie and his great-uncle. His friction-filled relationship with Ronnie. His whole coming-of-age story, it just works. It might not work completely evenly, but it works.

The setting. I loved the book once he got to Indiana. Everything just seemed better after that. The first setting, the urban setting of Chicago, it isn't that it doesn't work at all. It's just that it doesn't work as well. I'll try to explain it. This Chicago-setting was like climbing the first hill of a roller coaster. It's a bit slow, a bit jerky, and there is just a lot of waiting for everything to really begin. After he goes to Indiana, that is when it gets started, that is where the heart and soul of the novel is. It is here that the energy and focus reside.

The plot. The plot didn't work for me all the time. Parts of it worked--and worked well--other parts not so much. But here's the thing, I cared--really cared--about the characters. So I could be almost completely forgiving of the teeny-tiny didn't-quite-work-for-me bits in the plot. I'll be honest. I think the parts that irritated me slightly still ring with authenticity if that makes sense. Eddie, I believe is 12 or 13--somewhere around there, and there are just a few things about him that while authentic make him slightly irritating. There is a reason that it takes a special calling to work--as a teacher or volunteer--with kids in this age group both girls and guys. It's a difficult age to live through, and it's a difficult age group--in a way--to interact with. Not all the time, not every kid, but there are just rough patches that must be endured. It's not fun for the parent, the child, the teacher, or the sibling.

At its core, Double Click for Trouble is a coming-of-age story. It illustrates in just one of many ways this wonderful quote by Brent Runyon:

"The second hardest thing to do in life is to change from a child into an adult. There are so many ways to mess up. So many ways to get lost. It's like crossing the ocean in a rowboat."--Brent Runyon

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


Anonymous,  8:01 PM  

Hi Becky! Sorry to jump the gun, here, but I'm going to bed really soon, and I'll be out for much of tomorrow, so I put up my PF post early:

Thanks in advance for rounding me up.

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