Let's open with the disclaimer: this book is dedicated to me and my good friend Kylene Beers. Having said that, I need to insert another disclaimer here: I love Gary Paulsen. I first heard him speak when he had completed his first Iditarod. He had the entire audience laughing and weeping throughout his presentation. And, of course, then there are the books. HATCHET, DOGSONG, THE WINTER ROOM, THE ISLAND, HARRIS AND ME...the list goes on. I have read each and every one of his books. Gary has a way of reaching deep inside and finding that nerve and touching it, probing it, making sure we are fully alive in the story. So now we come to PAINTINGS FROM THE CAVE (Wendy Lamb Books 2011).
Three novellas tell the stories of kids who are the cast offs from society, kids who are living on their own for a myriad of reasons. Jake, Jo, and Jamie live on the fringes, surviving but barely. It is art that keeps them sustained. For Jo, it is the art of tending to her dogs and learning to listen to them speak to her. She can "read" them. Jamie is an artist who hopes his art will be a way for him to help earn money so he and his brother can find a permanent place to live. And for Jake, art is about movelment, learning how to move to stay safe from the winos and junkies and dealers who inhabit his world. Brutal, spare, heart-breaking, and redemptive: here is Paulsen writing about the kids who fall through the cracks, the ones left behind. <519>