Breakout Review

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Del has decided that she can no longer live the life she?s known for so long. She has decided to change identities, sell what she can, put the rest in the truck of an old Datsun, and move out of town.
On the way out of LA, she encounters a four-hour traffic jam. At first she?s angry about her situation and scared that a cop will recognize that she?s a minor and send her back to foster care; as time goes on, however, the traffic jam becomes a message to her about people, and her view of the world is slightly softened. Del is able to imagine the lives of her fellow ?traffic-jammers,? and she can see what they need and who they really are. These insights help her reach an understanding of her own life.
Paul Fleischman is the master of taking seemingly insignificant characters and events and creating powerful relationships among them. Just as he did in Seedfolks, here he has written about common place people who come together unexpectedly and learn a little bit more about each other than they expected.
There is a protagonist here who is in need of hope and understanding, and she gets it surprisingly from strangers who don?t know that they?re offering her anything except a little conversation during a long wait.
The interviewer?a young man working on his thesis?shows Del how people grow and change even over short periods of time, and the man with the red beret gives her a glint of hope that she is clever and has talent.
The flashback between her present self and this traffic jam experience eight years prior offers the reader relief, knowing that she is, indeed, able to take this experience and her life and make something of it.

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