Doug Swieteck is a fourteen-year old who just moved to a new town. With no friends and a lousy family, it seems as if the entire world is stacked up against him, at least until he meets Lil Spicer. Lil is a fiery young lady who turns Doug on to his local library, a place of solitude of Doug’s otherwise stormy life. As Doug discovers the joy of drawing, he works to integrate himself into the social web of small-town New York.
Even though Doug has his share of challenges to overcome, including a dysfunctional family, an abusive father, brushes with the law and a brother deployed to Vietnam, this is hardly an “issue” book. Rather, Mr. Schmidt focuses more on Doug’s passion for drawing, and how having a creative outlet helps him manage all these stressors. Drawing initially helps Doug escape from his troubled world, but later he uses his talents to begin healing it.
This is a particularly raw, real story, and I appreciate the no-nonsense manner in which Mr. Schmidt told it. I wouldn’t recommend the book for any young men under 14 or 15, but it’s a must-read for anyone old enough to handle to mature themes.