i have a very stubborn brain. i never read this book when it was age-appropriate for me to have done so, but i was convinced that it was about two kids who find out that their neighbor is a nazi war criminal. is this the plot of another paul zindel book? i know it is not one i have read, it was just always the first thing that popped into my head each time i encountered, and passed by, this title at my sadly underdeveloped local library as a kid, looking for more lois duncan.
and even though mfso told me i was wrong, and even though i have finished reading it, i am going to continue to believe it is actually about a nazi neighbor, so frankly mr. pignati, you got what you deserved, you bastard.
plot-wise, it is about a childless man who gets scammed by two teens, who then weasel their way into his life, which is lonely with only a cranky zoo-baboon to love, and he buys them things and gives them love and eventually they disappoint him and ruin his life.
in other words: a parable of parenthood.
it is an okay book—there are parts that are very reminiscent of catcher in the rye: adulthood bad, childhood good, kids smoking and drinking and cutting class, an “us against them” mentality, and a very complicated and subjective morality: it is okay to blow up toilets in the boys room, it is not okay to snatch a purse.
but it’s a very superficial comparison which is probably mostly motivated by the antiquated language and the anti-establishment undertones.
what i learned: teenagers are selfish and careless douchebags, and nazis love to eat snails…