Thursday, September 25, 2008

Rats Saw God / by Rob Thomas

Semi-local author Rob Thomas has published several YA novels over the past decade. This, his first, chronicles teenager Steve York at multiple times during high school.

Steve's last day of eighth grade is turned on its head when his parents announce their impending divorce. The untimely schism ultimately places his mother and sister in San Diego leaving him in Houston to live with his repressive (and somewhat despotic) father--"The Astronaut".

Facilitating things the best he can amidst unfamiliar surroundings, Steve carves out his new existence; gradually making friends and learning to survive his homelife simultaneously. His saving grace appears in the form of Wanda "Dub" Varner, with whom a steady-crush morphs into love by the end of freshman year. Until its bitter end his junior year, the reader is let in on all the relationship's details through segmented entries describing the 'then' blissful romance and his 'now' emotionally-reduced, drug-addled life after the break-up.

Though Thomas' later books were less well-received, Rats Saw God will find an audience with its drenched-in-sarcasm attitude and gritty realism. The 'then and now' style really fleshes out Steve's personality and relationships; displaying how both compliment each other and play off his actions. Generation X & Y'ers of the 80's/90's period will identify with the book's cultural aspects.

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