Book Review: Paintings From The Cave by Gary Paulsen
I’ve been reading YA lately and was absolutely thrilled with this book I picked up at the library. Paintings From The Cave is a collection of three novellas by Gary Paulsen. Each story revolves around a different “child who slipped through the cracks”. In an introductory note, Paulsen explains that he himself was just such a child who through circumstances finds himself with poor or worse parental supervision and is forced to confront the harder realities of life at a very early age. Twice in the first person and once in the third, Paulsen spins wonderfully vivid tales of three very different childhoods.
Jake, who is usually just called J in the high rise apartment building where he officially lives with his aunt and survives a world run by the local drug dealer through stealth and smarts has a fascinating and far reaching encounter with an unlikely neighbor who wants him to pose for a painted portrait. JoJo’s substance abusing parents, by turn neglectful and abusive have made her wary. But her unlikely very first friendship with a girl who is dying of a terrible disease is a beautiful flower in her gray life. Jaime and his older brother Erik are teenagers on their own; after running a way from a violently abusive father they survive by couch surfing as Erik struggles to work three jobs and Jaime to stay in school.
The three separate stories allow Paulsen to show a wonderful range, and the stories ring true in each of three distinct voices. Paintings From The Cave is Very Highly Recommended to anyone who enjoys Young Adult fiction.