TEENAGER

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Kody Rawlee Green loves Tella “Teal” Carticelli. Unfortunately, he’s in juvenile detention and she’s about to get on a plane to Rome in her parents’ last-ditch attempt to split them apart. When Kody finds out, he breaks out of juvie, rushes to her home, and whisks her away—after shooting her parents—to a new life on the run. With the police and Teal’s brother, Neil, on their heels, the two take a whirlwind journey through a mythic America, from Graceland to the wilds of Montana to the beaches of Los Angeles. It’s only a matter of time until the world catches up to them, but until that happens, they’re the Bonnie and Clyde of the 21st century. Smith has mixed violence with fable to create this modern-day tall tale about two teens who love each other and say to hell with everything else. Each small chapter is akin to a section from The Odyssey or Don Quixote, snapshots that could stand alone but merge together to create a greater story. The tale is told from the perspective of Kody, an unreliable observer who sees everything as heroically and romantically as possible while Teal vacillates between being aware of the real world around them and falling back into Kody’s fantasy. It’s easy for the reader to be pulled into Kody’s imagination along with Teal until a surprising moment of violence or sudden injury sends you back to reality. The juxtaposition of the teens’ actions versus their thoughts (Teal dreams of having a family in jail once they’re caught, children and grandchildren raised behind bars) emphasizes their youth and disconnection.

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