Rat Lifeby Tedd Arnold
The dead body found in the river has nothing to do with Todd. Sure, a murder is big news, but what would really interest him? A paying job. Then he meets Rat, who?s already been to Vietnam. And when he offers Todd a gig at the drive-in theater, Todd takes it. But hanging out with Rat leads to a host of perplexing questions. More and more, that corpse from the river is on Todd?s mind, and no matter how he shifts the pieces around, Rat is always part of the puzzle.
In this dark and consistently gripping mystery-Arnold's (Parts) first foray into YA territory-14-year-old Todd Anthony whets readers' appetites with "a list of possible first lines," beginning with "A dead guy washed up from the river." Set in upstate New York during the Vietnam War, Todd works at his parents' motel and spends his school days writing stories to entertain his friends. One day while biking home, he encounters a small dog; when Todd picks it up, it bites him and darts into the road where it is hit by a cement truck. He is forced to kill it-it's been too gravely wounded-and he is subsequently devastated. Todd keeps his actions secret; he writes about the incident for a school assignment, but is unable to turn it in. "I pull her closer. Feel a tiny lick on my wrist. I'm crying. Shaking. I never knew what crying really was." While searching for the dog's owner, Todd meets Rat, a tattooed and evasive veteran only a few years older than Todd, who offers him a job at the local movie drive-in. Meanwhile, a dead body has been discovered in the nearby river and Todd begins to suspect that Rat is involved on some level. Arnold amply demonstrates his ability to write for an older crowd, spinning a suspenseful yarn with a dizzying climax that sweeps Todd off his feet-both literally and emotionally-and will likely do the same to readers. Ages 12-up. (Apr.)Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Gr 6-10 - Despite a slow start, this is a solid story set in the early 1970s, with a likable main character and a thrilling climax. Readers will sympathize with Todd, a creative, sensitive boy who helps his parents run a motel in upstate New York and dreams of becoming a writer. When he crosses paths with Rat, a moody young Vietnam veteran, he gets a job at the drive-in theater where Rat works, and finds himself fascinated by the young man, who is compelling but possibly dangerous. Todd begins to wonder if his new friend might have something to do with the unidentified body pulled out of the river. However, the mystery builds quietly as other elements take precedence, including Todd's encounter with an abandoned puppy and the subsequent rabies shots he must endure, his resentment over chores at the motel, his struggles to write a story for English class, and his grandmother's deteriorating mental condition. When the river floods, both Todd and Rat are caught up in the disaster, and the truth comes out at last. The final chapters are riveting, but readers hoping for a fast-paced mystery might be disappointed by the leisurely unfolding of events up to that point. More patient readers will enjoy the details of small-town life and identify with Todd's preoccupations and yearnings.-Miranda Doyle, San Francisco Public LibraryCopyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Meet the Author
Tedd Arnold has written numerous picture books, including the Parts books and No Jumping on the Bed! He lives in Elmira, New York.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
See all customer reviews
Today I met the author at my school. Every year my school has an author come in an this year he came. I also got to be one of his volunteers for the demonstration of how his books got published. Go Tedd!!! Even though I didn't read this book I still know it is good. That is because Tedd Arnold wrote it. Thanks for the visit Tedd.
at the beginning of this book, it was sort of, not tedious or boring, it just seemed to go on for a while with stuff i didn't think was important but in the end it all made sense. this book was great