Reviewed by L.D.Y.
Trade, 245 pages, 2007
Reason for Reading: The cover; the topic reminded me of The Rhythm of the Road by Albyn Leah Hall, an early favourite of 2007.
Synopsis: 13-year-old Luli can’t take her bleak home life any longer and bolts, gunning for Las Vegas and the unusual dream of finding a sugar daddy once she’s there. Coming across drifters, cheaters, schemers, perverts and the occasional glimpse of goodness, Luli fights to grow up,
while the reader roots for her not to grow up too fast.
Why you should read this book: Luli’s magnetic blend of determination and naïveness lines up an engrossing read, getting her into (and out of) all kinds of trouble. The seedy characters she comes across seem to fascinate her instead of repel her, luring her in because she views herself as much more experienced than she actually is, which leads to letting herself believe she’s the same type of person as the largely despicable ‘grown-ups’ she crosses paths with. Luli’s need to feel wanted leaves her under the wing of a past-her-prime grifter named Glenda, who has her own internal struggle between pity for the teenage girl and the allure of potential opportunities that Luli could bring to herself. Gritty and rough, Hick will pull you in with the shock value, but keep you there for the beautifully crafted characters.
Why you should avoid this book: You might hear ’13-year-old girl’ and think of over-dramatic moping, but Hick is too edgy and gritty to be a teens-only novel.
‘You know why you keep losing, cause, guess what, you’re a fucking loser.’
‘Tell your mama, when you see her, tell her I had some business myself, tell her I had some business out in Shelby and I may be gone for a while, you know…paperwork.’
Now I know that’s a lie.
The last time I saw my dad pick up a pen, I was eight.
Then he barrels past me, quick, grabs his keys off the wall and rushes out the screen door, letting it slam hard behind. I go to the door and watch as he drives away, churning up dust all the way down the dirt road and into the horizon.
He doesn’t look back.
‘Naw. Just some guy picked me up on the side of the road. He seemed all right but then he kind of got crazy and I just looked at him and said, ‘Let me out,’ and he tried to make me stay, begged me actually, but finally I just opened the door and got out.’
‘Well. Good for you. That’s smart.’ She takes a drag. ‘You’re smart. That’s the kinda thing happens all the time. Think someone’s okay and then they start to act real nutso and turn into some snoring shitbag and next thing you know you’re tied to the bathtub.’
I stare at her, in awe, like she’s some highway angel sent down from heaven to school me in the ways of shitbags and nutsos and snoring in the dark.
Also recommended: The Rhythm of the Road by Albyn Leah Hall; Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson; Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight by Alexandra Fuller; gods in Alabama by Joshilyn Jackson.
Also by this author: Hick is Portes’ first novel.
Fun tidbit: Click here to hear Portes talk about Hick and read an excerpt from her novel.
Would I read more by this author? As fast as she can write them.
© Lisa Yanaky 2003-2008