Gantos recalls his life as a transient young adult, including his involvement in a drug running scheme that eventually lands him in prison. Using a straightforward, simplistic style, Gantos speaks to the reality of prison life, and details his transformation from a reckless criminal to an adult responsible for his own actions. Readers will connect to Gantos’ wish for adventure, and will hopefully realize, as the author did, that your life depends on the choices you make.
If you’re not usually a fan of nonfiction, this book is a great place to start. The first person narrative will draw you in, and Gantos is an extremely relatable character. His life is boring and pointless, and all he wants is some excitement to shake things up! At some point or other, I think that all of us have felt this way. Gantos, however, takes things to the extreme — he winds up on a “high seas” adventure with a drug runner. You know from the beginning of the book that Gantos does not get away with his crimes, so it’s interesting to watch his downfall from his own hindsight perspective. Sometimes the book does come across as an anti-drug book, or a “scared straight” story, but there’s enough action to keep you interested. Definitely a great pick if you’re looking for (or are assigned to read) an autobiography or memoir.
* Printz Award Honor Book
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