This isn't my normal type of book. In fact, I probably wouldn't have picked it up if not for the review swap request. So, up front, the author gave me a free copy to read and review honestly.
This YA book is really about finding out where you fit in the world. What makes you happy and whether or not you care what others think. It's a coming of age story in a not so standard setting.
Okerlund did a wonderful job with her character development. Merrill is moody and quirky in all the right ways. He's accepted that his mom's reputation affects his social standing in every way. At first he tries to do his best anyway, but he gets a lot more interesting when he decides to throw in with his mom and hang everyone else. The best part about Merrill deciding to help his mom's cause it that it's very natural. His personality is already suited to helping others.
Robbie is everything I expected him to be without feeling cliche. That's an accomplishment. He felt real. His problems were heart breaking and I wanted to slap a few people on his behalf. My favorite line in the book is where Robbie talks about still being in prison. Being an artistic person myself, I could relate to that.
There really wasn't a lot to mention here. The writing is clean. There were a few spots I was pulled out of the story by explanations. However, I'm of a mixed opinion about those places in the story. Okerlund references aspects of Mormonism and the polygamist FLDS. She takes a moment to explain the words she uses, which I think will be helpful to people not familiar with either religion, but they also felt like author intrusion.
The only other spot for me was something at the end. A few things come to light (trying not to spoil anything here) but one of them isn't clear. I'd like to know if the man who turns out to be Merrill's dad was also the guy on the Deadbeatparentportal. It wasn't clear and could go either way.
All in all I was surprised by the book. As I said, not my normal thing. There were no murders, aliens, explosions or romance. But, the story was well told and I enjoyed it. I give Hurricane Coltrane a solid 4.
1-5 scale and what it means:
1: I couldn’t even finish it / just plain bad
2: I hope I didn’t pay for this / disappointing
3: I didn’t hate it, but it was still missing something / forgettable but inoffensive
3.5: On the line between good and ok / like, not love
4: Solid mind candy / worth reading
4.5: So very close to perfection! / must read
5: I could not put it down and I’m still thinking about it! / a true treasure