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No Castles Here: 02/28/12

cover art

No Castles Here by ACE Bauer is another one of those display shelf gems from the library. I was curious about the graffiti style castle on the cover, especially with the title. I didn't even bother to read the blurb before deciding to read it.

Augie Boretski lives with his mother in Camden, New Jersey, if you call hiding from bullies and avoiding drug dealers living. His idea of escaping is a ride across the river into Philadelphia.

On his most recent trip to Philly, he does something he never does. He shoplifts — and worse yet, it's a fantasy book. Embarrassment or maybe something else, convinces Augie to read the book. As he reads he begins to see things in common between the story and his life in Camden.

Meanwhile, Augie's mother has forced him to join Big Brothers and the school chorus. Although Augie reluctantly does both, he does learn from both.

Of the two plots, I was most interested in the Big Brother one as Augie's Big Brother is gay. It was refreshing to see a positive representation of a gay man working with a teenager.

Among all of this regular coming of age plot lines, there is this underlying urban fantasy twist that is tied to the book. This aspect of the book reminds me of The Neverending Story by Michael Ende, but with the heroics being done here instead of in a fantasy realm.

Five stars.

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