December 07, 2006

Geek For Hire: Does Roofing Too

This book is a 2006 Cybil Award Nominee for YA Fiction.

16-year-old Fisher Brown has the answers to everything. Well, mostly because they're pasted up around his room by his well-meaning guidance-counselor father. But the problem with answers is that they come neatly tied with questions -- and Fisher's got questions that he doesn't dare ask. It's a matter of disturbing the universe... it's dangerous to do that. Better to stick to the way things are: him and his dad, making it through every day, doing what has to be done, which, for Fisher is going to school, going to SAT study after school, tutoring (and drooling over) the hot-but-clueless Annie Cagneys of the world, and studying, studying, studying, studying.

Fisher is a straight-A student, and he and all of his friends are "going places," someday -- all except for his best friend, DesireƩ, who thinks she has to stick around and go to a junior college to take care of her wild sister. Unfortunately, Fisher doesn't have time to listen to Dez and her fears and needs -- he needs to go someplace now -- quick, before his brain finishes melting and pours out of his ears. He's blowing everything, he knows it. He just can't concentrate anymore. He's going to totally wipe out on the SAT's, he knows it. And then what will his Dad do?

A chance for a getaway comes when his Dad's out of town. The neighbor's weird, wild little brother Lonny has a weekend roofing job to do, and he could use a hand. Sure, Fisher's supposed to be studying, but what's a little break?

Hundreds of miles and days later, Fisher's flat broke and sleeping under a bridge, dealing with questions and stresses he's never come across while studying quadratic equations. There's a whole ton of stuff going on in the outside world that he can't make heads or tails of, and all he wants to do is get away, and get back home. The Real Question is how he'll get there -- and whether Fisher has finally learned who and what is important, and where to go from there.

A surprisingly astute book by Adrian Fogelin, this novel is fast-paced and nightmarish, with a satisfying ending. Highly recommended.

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