April 16, 2007


Harry Sue Clotkin is one tough cookie, and she's not about to be anything else. Her mother tried saving her the time her father tossed her out of the 7th story window, and they would have been well rid of him, too, if she hadn't left her meth lab out on the kitchen table. Without the instruction manual and the burner, the cops would've thought it was powdered sugar.

The only child of convicted felons, Harry Sue's been stuck with Granny, who out of the alleged goodness of her crabbed and sour heart took her in. Once she found out there wasn't any money connected with caring for her own grandchild, however, Granny couldn't be bothered with her. Instead, she opened up a daycare, and Harry Sue's been protecting the crumbcatchers from Granny and her two, drugged up daughters ever since. She wouldn't put it past them to drug the applesauce to keep the kids quiet, and she's warned 'em what'll happen if she catches them. And then there's school -- why is it that she can't do anything there without consequences?! But Violet Chump really did need someone to save her life... though in reality, Harry Sue isn't supposed to be worrying about the crumbcatchers, and all of that do-gooding -- her goal is to get into the Big House. She's got to start a life of crime, or she'll never find her mother, ever. Her best dog, Homer, promises to help, but it might take more luck and moxie than anyone expected to help Harry Sue find her way home.

The language in this novel might be off-putting at first -- I am not accustomed to being presented with a glossary at the beginning of the book -- but the 'conglish' (Convict English) slang fades from the background as the poignant, funny-tragic tale of a scrappy little girl and her determined friends comes to the fore. There's plenty to sniffle over, but in the end there is triumph, and the feeling that no matter what, nobody puts one over on Harry Sue.

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