The Straits by Jeremy Craig

Synopsis:
After losing his mother and his sister in a devastating hurricane, high school student Jim now faces losing the FEMA trailer he shares with his aunt, so he turns to gambling to win the money to save them.

Review:
I just had to review The Straits, because author Jeremy Craig lives in my neighborhood! A mutual friend told me about the book and it sounded right up my alley. I really enjoyed it.

The Straits refers to the trailer park where Jim and his aunt live. It’s about to be taken down because FEMA needs the trailers, but they have nowhere else to go. Jim can’t stop thinking about the night that his house collapsed with his mother and younger sister inside. He feels like it was all his fault, and the guilt is eating him alive. He used to go to a fancy private school, but had to leave in disgrace after being caught in a gambling ring. He was framed by a friend, but no one will believe him. Now Jim needs money to find a new place to live with his aunt, and gambling seems to be the only way.

Craig makes Jim’s situation eminently believable, thanks to a wealth of details about how displaced persons live. I really felt for Jim and wanted him to find a way out of his despair. The book builds to an inevitable conclusion, but Craig makes the journey really fascinating. Good YA for guys is hard to come by, but The Straits–reminiscent of Chris Crutcher’s work–fits the bill.

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