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Me, Dead Dad, and Alcatraz by Elvin Bishop

Me, Dead Dad, & Alcatraz by Chris Lynch: First of all, I have absolutely no idea why Alcatraz is mentioned in the title, as it is not so much as even referenced in the text, but the title is so catchy I can overlook it. Elvin Bishop is a 14-year-old, self-conscious, fat kid who lives alone with his mother. He comes downstairs one morning to find his uncle Alex, whom Elvin had always been told died in a plane crash years before, very much alive and lying on his livingroom couch. Alex has come out of hiding, seeking redemption from those he hurt. He’s done a lot of terrible things but he wants to do right by his nephew. He does this by completely disrupting Elvin’s life for a few days through gym membership, casting doubt on the intentions of his two best friends, and exposing him to spicy food. The narration in this book, which is from Elvin’s point of view, is quite clever and often gave me an out-loud chuckle. There was a bit of white room syndrome (where you can’t tell where the characters are because there’s no description), but I’ve come to expect that from YA fiction. (As this was an advanced reader copy I can also forgive the constant misspelling of “yeah” as “ya.”) The plot was interesting but didn’t seem to be heading anywhere specific. I enjoyed the little episodic adventures but the ending was abrupt and unexpectedly preachy. I like Elvin as a character but he would do better in wacky comedies than the coming-of-age drama this book tries to be.

Also posted on BookCrossing.

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