Kaden Norris's life is shattered when his older brother-- his best friend and hero-- is killed in Iraq. He decides to fulfill his brother's last wishes left to him in a letter, urging him to break out of his sheltered existence, to read Chuck Pahaluniak, and to go to San Francisco and visit his cousin, James Morgan. James is a popular author, and a notorious bad-boy with a major cocaine addiction. Kaden's visit to San Francisco quickly turns from an exciting adventure to a wild disaster as he experiences things he's never dreamed of and uncovers secrets about his family that alter his world forever.
Jason Myersis the author of five teen novels, including his debut, Exit Here., which became a cult classic. He lives in San Francisco, California. Find him online at JasonMyersAuthor.com or follow him on Twitter at @JasonMyersBooks.
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers (December 29, 2009)
Length: 384 pages
Grades: 9 and up
Ages: 14 - 99
Lexile ® HL720
The Lexile reading levels have been certified by the Lexile developer, MetaMetrics®
When his older brother Kenny is killed in Iraq, fifteen-year-old Kaden Norris honors one of his last requests by flying to San Francisco to attend a book reading by Kenny's hero, Chuck Palahniuk. Kaden stays with his cousin James Morgan, another well-known author who is in his mid-thirties but parties hard and does all kinds of drugs with a much younger crowd. His girlfriend Caralie keeps a loose watch over Kaden, but he becomes enamored with the music and drug scene of San Francisco's radial youth culture. Before long, he is tossing back shots and doing lines of coke. He falls for Caralie, buys booze with a fake ID, gets into a street fight, loses his virginity, and discovers horrific family secrets all within a week. After an intense talk with James, Kaden returns to Dysart, Iowa, determined to live life by his own rules.
Disgustingly dirty crash pads, heavy metal talk, fashion reports, and references to Chuck Palahniuk's Fight Club scream "cool setting." But scenes of debahuchery crowd out deeper plot development that could garner empathy for Kaden and his problems. Like most teens, he is full of self-doubt and swayed by peer pressure, but his self-discovery happens too quickly to feel authentic. Saturated with F-bombs and other expletives, scenes of drug use, and gratuitous hook-up sex, this novel is not for everyone. Kids will love its 'in your face" attitude but it is not this generation's Catcher in the Rye.