I picked up Rat Life by Tedd Arnold tonight and almost before I knew it I had finished the entire book. It was partially a mystery with a little bit of history and realistic fiction mixed in.
Todd is an aspiring teenage writer and the events that he is part of during 1972 certainly lend themselves to his stories. During an incident that haunts Todd when a stray dog he had tried to protect gets struck by a truck, his path crosses with a slightly older boy named Rat. To say Rat has had a difficult life would be an understatement. He has abusive, often absent parents and a mom who arranged for him to serve in Vietnam when he was just 14! Todd is interested in Rat and wants to really understand this mysterious kid who seems to somehow be linked with a dead body found in the river.
This book, with its short chapters and layered storytelling, was a quick read that was as much an exploration of character and story telling as it was a mystery.
"Rat Life Cover." Online image. LibraryThing. 16 Aug. 2008