Thursday, October 20, 2011

Teen Reads Week:Throwback Thursday Edition- Dinky Hocker Shoots Smack

Author: M. E. Kerr
First published in 1972 by LauraLeaf

When Tucker Woolf needs to find a new home for his cat he only gets one call..  It's from Dinky Hacker, the strongest girl he has ever met. She doesn't shoot smack, but she sure could tell you a lot about kids who do. And once the cat moves in with Dinky, visiting it means visiting the Hocker home, which turns out to be more than Tucker ever bargained for...

I read so much in the 80s when I was a "YA" that I had a hard time choosing a Throwback Thursday edition book.  So, I enlisted the help of my local children's librarian to point me toward a good YA book from the 70s or 80s that screamed "Teen Read".  She immediately pulled Dinky Hocker Shoots Smack off the shelf and said it was a must read.

While I won't say it is the best teen read that I have ever read, I think that it is an honest look at the life of a teen trying to navigate his or her way into adulthood.    It is also a  story of a troubled teen who is failing miserably at trying to connect with her parents. Even though it was written in 1972, I think that this is very relevant to today.  When Tucker Woolf must find a new home for his cat, he meets Susan "Dinky" Hocker and her cousin Natalia.  He develops an unlikely friendship with Dinky and finds his first girlfriend in Natalia.  

The one thing that really struck me about this book is that unlike a lot of YA books of today, the parents play very big roles in the book.  The contrast between all of the parents in this book was really interesting.  You have Tucker's parents who are very in touch with their son and have painfully honest conversations with him.  P. John's father is a liberal who often gives away all of his possessions at the expense of his son. Finally. Dinky's parents who are so involved in the problems of the community around them that they can't see the problems they have right in their own home.  In the end, it is Tucker who sees the truth about what is going on with Dinky.

This is a quick read and I think would be an asset to any YA library.  Some of the slang is a big dated, but I think teens of today would be able to understand what they are talking about.  There is no sex, but there is discussion of drugs and sex.  I'd say OK for any kid 14 and up.


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