Finding Stinko Review

Finding Stinko
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You know those books that are great stories but the writing is sort of lame? (You know which ones I mean). And then there are books that have really good prose and thoughtful turns of phrases, but they require a shock-collar-zap to make you turn the page because they are dullsville. And then there are books like "Finding Stinko."
DeGuzman's short novel has the right touch of thrifty prose and fast-paced plot, hitting the target exactly with fine writing and a fine story line. In it, the lifer foster-kid, Newboy, makes a break from his latest loveless foster home at the Knox's, who "made a business of their boys". Newboy hasn't been able to talk for years, probably because it wasn't worth the trouble. But once he's on the run, he finds a ratty ventrilaquist dummy in a dumptster, and names him Stinko. To Newboy's surprise and delight, Stinko does all the talking for him.
In this urban quest for freedom and family, Newboy and Stinko must elude bullies and crooks, cops and caretakers. The chase is on, and there is hardly a second for Newboy to feel sorry for himself, or the street kids who become his friends and enemies. "Stinko" is gritty without being profane. Its backdrop is hard but not hopeless. In the end, when Newboy sticks out his thumb with his two new buddies and a dummy, I was sure he was hitching to a far better place, and it was the beginning of something good.

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