Reading/Interest Level: Young Adult
Author: Rob Thomas
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Steve York used to be an A+ student, and now he rarely ever makes it to class. When his new school’s guidance counselor calls him in for a chat, Steve finds himself with two options: write a 100-page paper or don’t graduate high school. While he’s not particularly inclined to do either, he begins writing what would become a detailed explanation of how he ended up flunking all his classes in California. Steve’s story begins with his parents’ divorce and his forced migration to Houston, Texas to live with his father. Steve might live with his dad, but they never talk or interact besides an occasional note left on the fridge. Steve finds a home in a quirky school club and falls in love with a girl named Dub. After over a year of dating, Dub begins acting differently; she avoids his phone calls, yells at him over little things, and spends less and less time with him. Upon returning from a trip to visit his mom, Steve finds Dub cheating on him, which breaks his heart. As soon as the school year is over, he drives to California to live with his mom and never looks back until he has to write all about it.
Rats Saw God deals with the more mature side of being a modern day teenager. On almost every page there is either a reference to drugs, alcohol, or sex. That being said, the story is about more than the party life of teenagers. The story’s biggest strength is the side-by-side comparison of Steve’s past that sloped steeply downwards and his present where he is trying to piece everything back together. Being able to see those two different sides of Steve simultaneously brings a hopeful message to the story. However, the message doesn’t always shine through the more adult moments of the story. Not every teenager would be mature enough to read this book, so be cautious in recommending it to anyone younger than eighteen.
*Contains moderate language and severe sexual content.