Author James Howe, known for Bunnicula and countless other children’s books, tackles the angst of teen life in his Misfits series. Also Known as Elvis, the fourth and final installment, gives voice to 13-year-old Skeezie Tookis, the odd one out who has to work and babysit his cantankerous sisters all summer while his four best friends relax on vacation.
We meet Skeezie, always in his dad’s leather jacket, at the Candy Kitchen with his best buds. The "gang of five" survived seventh grade, but Skeezie wonders if he’ll make it through this summer. He became the man in the family when his deadbeat dad left, and now his mom needs him to step up and earn some cash. Luckily, he nabs a job at a favorite hangout.
A job won’t fix everything. His home life is rocky. When Becca, one of the popular girls, likes him, friend Addie texts him to be careful. His father shows up at the soda shop wearing a tie and paying the kids’ tabs, and Skeezie doesn’t know what to think. His discomfort intensifies when his dad makes him an offer he can’t refuse.
The story—told from the dual vantage points of teen Skeezie as he confronts life-altering choices, and adult, happily married Skeezie as he looks back—is reassuring. We know he’ll turn out OK.
The informal language, relatable experiences and insightful narrative will hit home with young readers, as will the camaraderie of friends whose quirky personalities are the backbone of the story.
Billie B. Little is the Founding Director of Discovery Center at Murfree Spring, a hands-on museum in Murfreesboro, Tennessee.