The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I devoured this awesome debut book by Jeff Zentner and now I can't stop thinking about it - teens will LOVE this searingly sad book about the confines of a small town, three best friends, and their senior year. Travis, Dill and Lydia have been bullied throughout high school but Dill has been ostracized totally due to the imprisonment of his totally scary preacher father who believes in handling snakes as part of God's word. He lives in poverty, in fear of becoming like his father and grandfather (yes there is a real concern - you will love the story of Dill's grandpaw, The Serpent King), his mother works endless hours but is as crazy about religion as her husband and forces her son to work off their debts, go to visit his father in prison, and will not allow him to attend college. So life is horrible for Dill. Also he has been in love with Lydia forever and is sick about her leaving for college. Travis is a great big teddy bear who is both viciously beaten and verbally abused by his drunk father. But the three best friends have each other and their dreams in their small minded town. Will they all make it out and live happily ever after? I could not put this totally sad book down, it is a must read. I highly recommend it- Zentner has a way with words, a depth of feeling that I have not found in other books. I will be excitedly looking for his next book- he is one special writer!
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