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No Place

No Place

5.0 1
by Todd Strasser

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When Dan and his family go from middle class to homeless, issues of injustice rise to the forefront in this relatable, timely novel from Todd Strasser.

It seems like Dan has it all. He’s a baseball star who hangs with the popular crowd and dates the hottest girl in school. Then his family loses their home.

Forced to move into the town’s Tent City, Dan


When Dan and his family go from middle class to homeless, issues of injustice rise to the forefront in this relatable, timely novel from Todd Strasser.

It seems like Dan has it all. He’s a baseball star who hangs with the popular crowd and dates the hottest girl in school. Then his family loses their home.

Forced to move into the town’s Tent City, Dan feels his world shifting. His friends try to pretend that everything’s cool, but they’re not the ones living among the homeless. As Dan struggles to adjust to his new life, he gets involved with the people who are fighting for better conditions and services for the residents of Tent City. But someone wants Tent City gone, and will stop at nothing until it’s destroyed...

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Strasser tackles unexpected homelessness among the middle class in this affecting novel about Dan, a high school senior and promising baseball pitcher whose family suffers a slow slide from a comfortable life to being taken in by relatives and eventually coming to reside in their town’s tent city. Overcome by embarrassment, anger, and compassion for his fellow homeless citizens, Dan—who is almost too thoughtful and well-behaved (he only once allows anger to overtake him, and stops short of doing actual harm)—sustains credibility as he gives voice to the disbelief and disorientation felt by many in this situation. Strasser (Fallout) endows other characters, including Dan’s parents, with multidimensional responses, and elements of romance and suspense keep up the pace. Opposing points of view about economic balance (including a few didactic passages) help readers understand that there are no black-and-white answers to the questions Strasser poses. Clearly meant to inspire discussion about morality in the face of today’s social and economic problems, the book also delivers an authentic look at contemporary high-school society. Ages 12–up. Agent: Stephen Barbara, Foundry Literary + Media. (Jan.)
"Timely and important material."
"This compelling social commentary challenges stereotypes about homelessness from the perspective of a middle-class teen...Readers will be drawn into this contemporary story."
"This compelling social commentary challenges stereotypes about homelessness from the perspective of a middle-class teen...Readers will be drawn into this contemporary story."
VOYA, February 2014 (Vol. 36, No. 6) - Jamie Hansen
High school senior Dan Halprin always seemed to be the kid who had it all. A star baseball player, he has a college scholarship locked in. He also hangs out with the popular crowd and dates the hottest girl in school. Everything changes after his parents lose their jobs and their home, forcing the family to move, first to their relatives’ house and then to Dignityville, a tent city established to house the homeless. Dan’s secure world implodes; his friends react to his new status with varying degrees of pity, disbelief, and even hostility. Struggling to adjust to tent life, a lack of spending money, the need for free school meals, and special buses for homeless kids, Dan finds himself drawn to those in Dignityville seeking improved conditions for the homeless. When the spokesperson for the group suffers a brutal attack, it becomes clear that some people will do anything to eradicate the tent city, even bribing citizens of Dignityville to destroy their own community. Strasser offers a timely, poignant, and occasionally darkly humorous account of the experiences of Dan and his family as their comfortable middle-class existence disappears into the black hole of poverty. With the consummate skill of the best young adult writers, Strasser avoids sermonizing as he seamlessly combines real-time information about the social and economic conditions in contemporary society with a realistic and readable story of high school life. This exceptionally thought-provoking novel should be part of all collections serving teens. Reviewer: Jamie Hansen; Ages 11 to 15.
Children's Literature - Kim Dare
Dan Halprin has it all—popularity, beautiful girlfriend, and a strong pitching arm that is his ticket to a full scholarship at Rice University. He knows money is tight since his mom lost her stockbroker job several years ago and his dad lost his job as an inner city youth coordinator more recently. When the bank forecloses on their house and he and his parents move in with his mom’s brother, Dan is still able to convince himself it is just a temporary setback. The tension of two families living together is high, and his parents decide that, rather than allow the negative energy to grow, they will move to Dignityville, a tent city created by the mayor to address the town’s homeless issue. As Dan learns the ins and outs of living in a tent city—close living quarters, shared dining hall where donated dinners are served, unreliable transportation—he is forced to examine his preconceptions about homeless people. Meg, who was his science partner last year, lives there with her family: her mother and older brother both have jobs, but her father’s high medical bills have depleted the family’s funds. Much of the town is against the tent city, believing that it will decrease property values, and Dan’s father becomes an unwilling pawn in an attempt to destroy Dignityville. Strasser’s talent is in showing the subtle impact the homeless label has on Dan and his family: the changed relationships with friends, the coping mechanisms that Dan’s mother and father each use. With fully developed characters and authentic dialog, Strasser offers readers a compelling glimpse into the realities of poverty and homelessness. He is obviously passionate about the subject, but avoids didacticism. There is no pat ending, but there is certainly hope, and readers will be left with much to think about. Reviewer: Kim Dare; Ages 13 up.
Kirkus Reviews
Dan is middle-class and college-bound, but that won't keep the global recession from taking his home. Dan—with a stockbroker mother and a city-employee father, headed to Rice on a baseball scholarship—was once a solid member of the middle class. But when his parents lose their jobs, the family winds up in Dignityville, a tent city for the town's homeless. Homelessness, he learns, isn't merely the absence of a roof and four walls: It's hunger, insecure storage, shame, exhaustion, physical vulnerability, and disconnection from phone service and Wi-Fi. Even geography becomes Dan's enemy, as he discovers Dignityville is outside his school district, and his after-school job is too far away to reach. Highly politicized infodumps about America's growing wealth disparity, while unsubtle, are smoothly integrated through the voices of minor characters with messages to impart. There's an Occupy-style activist with informative posters, a young black man sneering at the surprise of middle-class white people at being "shoved down to the bottom where they never thought they'd be," even Dan's own Web searches for a school research project springing from his experiences. For similar themes with less of a problem-novel vibe, try Sarah Dooley's lovely Body of Water (2011); nonetheless, Dan's experience with middle-class poverty is accessible and timely. (Fiction. 13-15)
School Library Journal
Gr 7–10—High school senior Dan Halprin is the star pitcher on the baseball team, has been offered a scholarship to Rice University, and is dating wealthy Talia. When his parents lose their jobs as a stockbroker and youth athletics coach, and then their home, the family is forced to move into Dignityville, a tent community in the center of town. Humiliated and angry, Dan struggles to maintain his self-confidence, relationships, and aspirations. When townspeople complain about providing land and services for the homeless, Dignityville becomes a target for threats and violence. Just as Dan begins to understand the attitudes and dreams of other Dignityville residents, he learns that his despondent father has been coerced by Talia's father, a local real-estate magnate, into helping destroy the tent community. In the end, forgiveness, an upturn in work opportunities, and the generosity of neighbors help the Halprins get back on their feet. This compelling social commentary challenges stereotypes about homeless people and offers a look at homelessness from the perspective of a middle-class teen. Diverse characters, easy dialogue, realistic school and community settings, believable tension, and references to John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath fuel Strasser's well-paced, engaging narrative. Coping with their personal financial catastrophe, wanting to stay in their familiar town, finding work, accepting charity, and maintaining self-respect are issues that weigh heavily on Dan and his parents. Readers will be drawn into this contemporary story.—Gerry Larson, formerly at Durham School of the Arts, NC

Product Details

Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.60(w) x 8.40(h) x 1.10(d)
730L (what's this?)
Age Range:
12 - 17 Years

Read an Excerpt

No Place



It was never easy with Talia. The second you said something she didn’t like, she had five different ways of letting you know. Since I knew she wasn’t going to like what I had to say about Thanksgiving, I waited until the last moment—lunch was over and we were leaving the cafeteria.

“You know the Fall Classic Tournament over Thanksgiving?” I said as we walked out into the hall. “I got invited.”

The corners of Talia’s mouth drooped. “You said you’d go away with us.”

“No, you said I’d go away with you. I said I wasn’t sure.”

Her eyebrows dipped. “You don’t want to go to Hilton Head?”

“Tal, don’t do this. You know I want to go, but there’ll be pro scouts at the tournament. Guys get drafted straight out of high school all the time.”

Talia stopped in the middle of the hall and widened her eyes. “And not go to Rice?”

“Come on.” I took her hand. My next class was on the other side of the building. Talia allowed herself to be coaxed along, and we passed a bunch of kids at a table who were asking people to sign up for some march on Washington.

“So now you’re saying you’re not going to college?” Talia repeated the question she already knew the answer to.

“I didn’t say that. I said—”

“Hey, Dan,” a voice interrupted us. Like a guide giving a college tour, a kid from the sign-up table started walking backward in front of Talia and me. He had long, ratty, brown hair. “How about signing up?”

“For?” I asked.

He pointed at a poster on the wall.









Talia pulled my hand. It was her turn to coax me away. “Dan, we were talking.”

“Who do you think politicians really serve?” asked the ratty-haired kid. “The rich people and corporations who pay for their election campaigns, or the rest of us?”

“Dan.” Talia tugged impatiently.

I let myself be pulled away.

“Think about it, Dan,” the kid called behind me.

“Who was that?” Talia asked as we continued down the hall.

“Don’t know.”

“He knew your name.”

“Lots of people know my name.”

“He sounded like he knew you.”

“They do that to get your attention.”

“What do I have to do to get your attention?” she asked.

I squeezed her hand. “You always have my attention.”

Not that she gave me much choice.

“Then please explain what’s going on. First you say you’re not going to Hilton Head. Now you’re not going to college?” Talia loved to spin everything toward the dramatic.

“I’m going to Rice,” I said patiently. “The letter of intent’s supposed to come in a few weeks. The deal is basically done. But in the extremely unlikely case that I pitch lights out at the tournament, and some major-league team actually wants to sign me straight out of high school? Rice would let me go.”

“And you’d really do that? Even after that coach arranged for your work study and stipend?” Talia asked. Was it any surprise that Legally Blonde was still one of her favorite movies? Only, unlike Elle Woods, Talia didn’t start with the ditz thing and then wait until law school to discover she had brains. Talia displayed lawyer smarts whenever it suited her.

“He wouldn’t be happy, but he’d understand,” I tried to explain. “It’s all about the big show. He knows that.”

I can’t say I was sorry when we reached the corner in the hall where each day we parted after lunch. As if she suddenly no longer cared about Thanksgiving or baseball, Talia smiled, all white teeth and lip gloss. “See you at eight? Carrie’s party?”

Now I understood. She knew I didn’t want to go to that party, but there was no way I could refuse after saying no to her family’s Thanksgiving trip. Getting me to the party was probably what the whole Thanksgiving argument had been about in the first place. I may have been considered an exceptional high school athlete, but once again I’d been totally outclassed by a girl who stood five feet two inches and barely weighed 100 pounds.

“We don’t have to stay at the party that long,” Talia assured me with a winning smile.

Defeated, I sighed. “Sure.”

She stretched up and kissed me on the cheek. “Good boy.”

Meet the Author

Todd Strasser has written many critically acclaimed novels for adults, teenagers, and children, including the award-winning Can’t Get There from Here, Give a Boy a Gun, Boot Camp, If I Grow Up, Famous, and How I Created My Perfect Prom Date, which became the Fox feature film Drive Me Crazy. Todd lives in a suburb of New York and speaks frequently at schools. Visit him at ToddStrasser.com.

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No Place 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Love it!!!!!!!!!!!!!