Punkzilla is not your typical road trip novel, and Punkzilla is not your average fourteen-year-old boy.
Through a series of letters – written from Jamie (AKA Punkzilla) to brother Peter; from Peter; from his mom; from his dad, the Major; from his other brother, Edward – Jamie tells a small portion of his life leading up to what got him on a Memphis-bound Greyhound. At times readers may not be sure of the narrator’s reliability (though that may be the point), but they’ll stay onboard the journey anyway, mostly because Punkzilla is so darn interesting. The writing style, especially the haphazard or nonexistent punctuation, takes a bit of getting used to, but he’s able to convey his voice so convincingly that the grammar blends into the background. Punkzilla meets many interesting characters as he rides the Greyhound or hitches rides with well-meaning individuals. Enough kind-hearted, if slightly strange, people help him out that he eventually does make it to his destination. And it is in Memphis that he realizes that “home” and “family” are fluid and not always as black-and-white that others’ try to make them out to be. Each person makes his or her own way in the world, and it’s the journey that’s the thing in the end.
Recommended to high school readers of all types, though this book just won’t be for everyone.
Call number: YA RAPP (Teen Room)
Reviewed by kate the librarian.