There is nothing more fulfilling than author visits. I had the opportunity to bring in Jack Gantos to our high school as well as spending an extra day at a few of our elementary schools. I was smitten from the start. He’s a powerful presence, a dynamic speaker, and a lighthearted and friendly guy who oozes thoughtfulness.
In preparation, I read some of the titles that I don’t often read at the high school level, his elementary and middle school books along with lesser known titles that while they don’t get the notoriety of Hole In My Life and the Joey Pigza books, show his depth as a writer. I want to share my thoughts on The Love Curse of the Rumbaughs and Desire Lines.
First, The Love Curse of the Rumbaughs is fantastically dark with an originality that is unmatched. Ivy doesn’t know which of the adult twins across the street is her father and her mother won’t share the fact either. Ivy now has her mission, to discover the identity of her father and what goes on behind the closed doors of the pharmacy that they run and their apartments upstairs. What is upstairs is more macabre than the scariest Halloween costume and more fantastical than an atmospheric event. I can’t spoil this short novel with too many more details, but know that fans of Ransom Riggs’ Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children will enjoy.
Second, Desire Lines, can be a perfect addition to GLBT titles in the library, but it angers and infuriates then shocks and shakes you. Knowing that Gantos knew of a similar event during his life only makes it more painful. Our main character is being pressured to out gay classmates and while he does know two girls who meet at a pond that he frequents he isn’t giving in just yet, but the cracks are appearing. In one hundred and twenty pages the books gives a three hundred and sixty degree perspective of a tragedy in a small town with vivid characters that pushed me to finish within two hours. Save for slowing down to re-read phenomenal lines of text, I needed to see to the end in one sitting.
So, take yourself to a different place by reading a Gantos book that may not be targeted to you specifically because you won’t be disappointed as his stories are timeless and his storytelling is genius.