Thursday, March 3, 2016

Thanks For the Trouble, by Tommy Wallach

Parker hasn't spoken in the five years since his dad died. His way of communicating with the world is to write his thoughts, feelings, stories, and (brief) replies in notebooks (to date, he's filled 105). Another thing about Parker: He's also become a fairly skilled pickpocket, preying on the careless rich elite who frequent posh hotels. 

Then one Halloween Parker lifts a wad of cash from the purse of a sad-eyed, silver-haired girl eating in the dining hall of the Palace Hotel. And he would have gotten away with it too, except that he left his notebook behind on the table. A notebook containing a fairy tale he wrote about a girl with silver hair. A notebook containing his name and contact number. Even though he could use the cash, Parker has no choice to go back, apologetically return the cash to its rightful owner, retrieve his notebook, and hopefully escape without getting charges pressed. But the girl, Zelda, won't let Parker off that easily. She wants to know all about him. Why he steals. Why he won't talk. Why he won't go to college or plan for his future. She also drops a shocking confession: She plans to give the cash, all she has in the world, to the first needy person she encounters. Afterward, she will jump off the Golden Gate Bridge. Zelda agrees to give the cash to Parker on one condition: He agree to apply to (and actually attend) college. The pair then makes an adventure of Zelda's final hours: Shopping, exploring, engaging in some pretty wild shenanigans, and, of course, talking of (writing) their most personal secrets. Turns out there's more to Zelda--and to Parker--than anyone could have imagined.

Thanks for the Trouble is the second book for author Tommy Wallach (his first was We All Looked Up, which I didn't read). It's been on our New Book shelf for about a week and looked interesting, so I picked it up. The concept was ineteresting: A seriously troubled boy trying to show an even more troubled girl that life is worth living. Sounds like the proverbial blind-leading-the-blind situation, but in this case it worked. Thanks for the Trouble is one of those books where nothing really happens, but everything happens. As Zelda and Parker's mini-adventures became more random and wild and as their conversations became more personal, I was drawn deeper and deeper into the story. 

I'd definitely suggest this one. --AJB

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