11 January 2011

Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalup

Scavengers are poor and desperate.  They need to keep hunting for the next profit of goods that translate into wealth just to stay fed and sheltered.  They form bonds for survival. 

Along the gulf coast, at Bright Sands Beach, Nailer works with a crew of scavengers, pulling copper wire to make quota for the bosses to hand up to the big companies like General Electric, Patel Global Transit, and FluidDesign.  When Nailer makes it out of an oil drum alive, despite being left for dead by a crewmate, he's nicknamed "Lucky Boy," even though his wounds only prove that he's lucky he wasn't left for worse.  Still he survives that and, with the help of Pima and her mother Sadma, he and his dad also survive the storm that rips apart their beach that night.  Lucky, indeed.  On a rare day off following the storm, Pima and Nailer take advantage by exploring a bit, looking for some good scavenge.  What they find is the wealthiest clipper they've ever seen, shipwrecked and forcefully abandoned.  And what they find on the ship -- the young, beautiful, rich, troubled, barely alive daughter of the owner of Patel Global -- is what turns out to be the beginning of a horrific adventure.

This is a dark tale of survival -- of nature, economics, social, and self.  It's incredibly written and the characters are unforgettable in their realness and complexity.  Recommended to older readers with a stomach for violence and a curiosity for adventure.  This title was just announced by the American Library Association as the winner of the Michael L. Printz Award for Excellence in Young Adult Literature.  Read it.
Call number: YA BACIGALUPI (Teen Room)

Reviewed by kate the librarian

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