sprite writes
broodings from the burrow

June 15, 2009

into the stacks: southern 1
posted by soe 11:58 pm

Flush by Carl Hiaasen

From the jacket: “Noah’s dad has a little problem with anger control. He tried to stop the Coral Queen casino boat’s illegal dumping … by sinking the boat. But his bold protest fizzles: Within days, the casino is back in business, and Noah’s dad is behind bars and out of action. Now Noah is determined to succeed where his father failed. But even though pumping raw sewage into the waters of the Florida Keys is both gross and against the law, turns out it’s near impossible to catch the flusher — especially when he’s already bamboozled the prosecutors, the local press, and even the Coast Guard.”

My take: When I decided to sign up for Maggie’s Southern Reading Challenge 3, my first challenge was going to be meeting a review goal of the first book by today. So I thought I’d tuck a kids’ book into the list so I had time to pick it up at the library, read it, and get it reviewed. I’d read Hoot before, so I knew that I liked Hiaasen’s style, at least for his young adult books.

Like Hoot, Flush takes place in Florida and focuses on the story of a middle school boy who finds out about an impending environmental disaster and must decide what he’s going to do.

The book opens at the town jail, where Noah has stopped in to visit his dad on Father’s Day. Paine is a mild-mannered waterman who, as his family routinely points out, tends to get a little carried away when he sees a wrong that needs righting. In this instance, he has sunk a local casino boat, purportedly because its owner, Dusty Muleman, is pumping the boat’s toilets into the bay. Noah’s mom has tried to bail him out, but Paine refuses to let her. He’s happy to stay locked up, claiming his being in jail brings attention to the situation, but the kids overhear Donna on the phone talking divorce and start to worry their father may have gone too far this time.

In the days that follow, Noah and his younger sister, Abbey, see what they can do to learn more about the charges their father has lobbed at Muleman. They scout around the marina, dodging Muleman’s bullying son during the day and his thuggish security at night. At Paine’s suggestion, Noah consults an ex-mate from the Coral Queen, Lice Peeking, a soused bum living in a trailer with Muleman’s bosomy ex-girlfriend, Shelly, who both agree Muleman’s no good.

But when the kids nearly get grabbed, Lice disappears, Paine gives up his fight, and Shelly, Abbey, and Noah witness the effect the sewage has on the local wildlife, it’s time to up the ante. Can Noah and Abbey set up Muleman, dodge the scarred old man living in the woods (who seems to know an awful lot about them), and still be back home in bed before their folks get home?

Ultimately, this is a story about interconnectedness and vigilance. One thing touches another, which touches another. Noah’s family might get frustrated with one another, but, ultimately, they’re there for each other, looking out for one another, watching everyone’s backs. They are separate but a whole. And the environment is the same way. One person can — for good or for evil — affect the wildlife and the people who use the water. And even seemingly benign carelessness can lead to long-term problems. The environment is not something apart from us.

Hiaasen works a bit hard sometimes to drill these points in, sometimes creating a rather awkward back story to make it all work. But he has created some great characters — Noah, a real boy who’s inherited his father’s passion for protecting those who can’t speak up for themselves; Abbey, his analytical sister with a flair for drama; and no-nonsense Shelly, whose big heart is ultimately much more noticeable than the tattoo on her arm — who carry the story through in the end.

Pages: 263

Category: books. There is/are Comments Off on into the stacks: southern 1.

cupcake misadventures
posted by soe 2:42 am

A couple weeks ago, as you may recall, I was desperate to bake up some goodies involving the first two spring fruits — strawberries and rhubarb. Jenn suggested I try cupcakes first, which was just as well because Rachel of Coconut & Lime was marking her fifth blogiversary with a contest involving her recipes.

So I commenced, far later in the evening than was advisable, to make her Baby Loves Rhubarb Cupcakes: (more…)

Category: life -- uncategorized. There is/are 1 Comment.