Curtis, Christopher Paul. Bucking the Sarge.

Author:Rohrlick, Paula
Position::Young Adult Review - Book Review
 
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CURTIS, Christopher Paul. Bucking the Sarge. Random House, Wendy Lamb Books. 240p. c2004. 0-385-32307-7 $15.95. JS*

Two women dominate the life of Luther T. Farrell, age 15. He's in love with his beautiful classmate Shayla, though she is his rival to win the school science fair. The other woman is his terrifying mother (aka the Sarge), who has him trapped in her "Evil Empire." She's a loan shark, a slum landlord, and the owner of a number of group homes, all part of her quest to become rich and powerful, no matter who she steps on along the way. Despite Luther's age, she has put him in charge of one of her homes, "The Happy Neighbor Group Home for Men," where he works hard cooking, cleaning, and taking care of the residents for her. In his spare time she puts Luther to work doing other chores, such as reluctantly evicting people who can't pay the rent from her apartments. The setting is Flint, Michigan, where Curtis's previous award-winning novels, The Watson Go to Birmingham--1963 and Bud, Not Buddy, also take place, but unlike those books this is a contemporary tale, and one aimed at somewhat older YAs (there are some references to masturbation, for example).

Luther's enterprising friend Sparky is dying to get out of Flint, and he has hatched a get-rich-quick scheme, involving a rat and a lawyer whose phone number is 1-800-SUE-EM-ALL, in which he embroils Luther...

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