Sketches

Sketches

5.0 5
by Eric Walters
     
 

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After fleeing her home, suburban-bred Dana struggles to survive in the alleys, squats, and subway stations of downtown Toronto. Dana’s graffiti on an underpass catches the eye of a counselor at Sketches, a drop-in center where homeless teens can express themselves through art. As Dana works on a painting, she begins to confront the reason she left home. The… See more details below

Overview

After fleeing her home, suburban-bred Dana struggles to survive in the alleys, squats, and subway stations of downtown Toronto. Dana’s graffiti on an underpass catches the eye of a counselor at Sketches, a drop-in center where homeless teens can express themselves through art. As Dana works on a painting, she begins to confront the reason she left home. The truth of what her stepfather did to her is trying to break free, but will it come out through her paintbrush or the blade of a knife? This gritty, honest portrayal of street life from acclaimed Canadian author Eric Walters is a testament to the healing power of art.

Editorial Reviews

KLIATT
AGERANGE: Ages 15 to 18.

Homeless kids, throwaway teens living on the streets, are a growing problem in many big cities. In this novel, 15-year-old Dana is one of them, having fled the comforts of her suburban home and abusive stepfather for a much more precarious existence living hand to mouth. She is soon adopted into a small street family consisting of herself, Brent and Ashley--people she would have crossed the street to avoid in a previous life. They look out for each other and spend most of each day panhandling, squeegeeing car windows, and stealing to buy food and cigarettes (and sometimes drugs), and trying to find a safe place to spend each night. They have no future and no options until Dana discovers Sketches, a real place in Toronto, which encourages street kids to come in and express themselves artistically. Sketches offers supplies, counselors, an occasional bed, and some food. It also provides inspiration and ways for kids to get off the street by using their artistic talents instead of begging or hooking. The book is written to point out the problem of homeless runaways, praise the services of a place like Sketches, and invest the homeless with sympathy in a world where they are generally invisible. These characters are more salvageable than many real-life homeless teens since they are not addicted to hard drugs, nor do they sell their bodies under the tight control of pimps. Thus, because of the kind ministrations of the counselors at Sketches, all three of them survive and prevail. Good for demonstrating the problems of homeless teens, this novel is not quite gritty enough to be fully realistic. Reviewer: Myrna Marler
March 2008 (Vol. 42, No.2)

Children's Literature - Carol Ann Lloyd-Stanger
Dana's friends on the street are not clear why she ran away from home, but they welcome her to their lives and help her begin to build relationships of trust. As Dana tries to forget her mother, her sister, and especially her stepfather and erase the person she used to be, one part of her former life follows her—a love for art. When a stranger sees Dana spray-painting on an underpass, he invites her to come to Sketchers, a drop-in art center for homeless teens. The center offers a little bit of food and a lot of safety and acceptance. Slowly, Dana is able to help her friends understand her need to create and glimpse the possibility of a life that includes more than worrying about food and shelter, but the darkness in Dana's past will not stay hidden forever. Can she learn to trust enough to confront her fear and in the process save herself and her little sister? The mature themes are sensitively handled, and the book ends on a hopeful note. This book is best for older readers. Reviewer: Carol Ann Lloyd-Stanger
School Library Journal

Gr 7 Up- Dana, 14, escapes her stepfather's sexual abuse by running away to the streets of Toronto, where she forms a "family" with street kids Ashley and Brent. Panhandling money for food, finding places to sleep, and staying safe are a struggle, but the three manage to survive. Little by little, Dana learns why her friends are in this situation, and she in turn reveals her story. The teens' saving grace is Sketches, a drop-in center where homeless youth engage in art and are cared for. When an attempt to make a home in Tent Town falls apart, Dana, Ashley, and Brent, with the help of Sketches's staff, develop a plan to get off the streets permanently. Though Walters's characters are developed enough for readers to care about them, they're not fully fleshed out. While hinted at (but never actually described), Dana's abuse is not disclosed until the end of the book, raising unanswered questions of why she left her younger sister in jeopardy and whether she had told her mother what was happening. Todd Strasser's Can't Get There from Here (S & S, 2004) is a more compelling, intense, and bleak depiction of street kids, but readers who liked it will be drawn to this story, too, especially its believable yet non-gritty dialogue. The characters' well-portrayed camaraderie, resourcefulness, and resiliency carry the tale, which ends on a note of promise.-Diane P. Tuccillo, Fort Collins Regional Library District, CO

Kirkus Reviews
Art and the street provide refuge to a hurting teen. Escaping from her sexually abusive stepfather, Dana joins up with Brent and Ashley, two longtime residents of the Toronto streets. Making money by spare-changing commuters and wiping windshields leaves Dana yearning for artistic expression, which she finds when a drop-in center councilor notices her graffiti. Her talent quickly garners the threesome extra cash, and Dana is able to confront her inner turmoil through canvas. Dealing with dark issues such as homelessness and sexual abuse, Walters keeps Dana's narrative voice light, a choice that reduces the authenticity of the tale. Dana remains oddly above whatever circumstances she faces, whether it's the revelation of her self-mutilation, the tale of her sexual abuse, or the intervention by the drop-in center's counselor. Brent and Ashley's world-weary attitude nicely balances out the discrepancy. Lacking the strong characters and emotions of Jessica Blank's Almost Home, Walters's tale remains a rough sketch. (Fiction. YA)

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781440635083
Publisher:
Penguin Young Readers Group
Publication date:
03/13/2008
Sold by:
Penguin Group
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
232
File size:
0 MB
Age Range:
12 Years

Meet the Author

Eric Walters has written over forty novels. He lives in Ontario, Canada.

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