Get ready for the Wisconsin Book Festival with this terrific tween read!

A review of The Scavengers by Michael Perry

When I went to a recent Michael Perry event I wasn’t planning to buy his new book, The Scavengers, because it’s a kids’ book. But after a few passages read aloud in Perry’s signature down-home-wisdom style, I was hooked. So I bought the book and devoured it in about two sittings, forgetting very quickly that it was even supposed to be a kids’ book (don’t worry, it’s entirely recommended for them, too). You might be a bit skeptical, as I was at first, of a middle-aged male Wisconsin farmer’s ability to channel a tween-aged girl in dystopic future America, but fear not, your skepticism will prove wholly unwarranted.

Perry, to date a denizen of the autobiographical non-fiction genre, says he wrote Scavengers because he wants his daughters to grow up in a world with relatable, strong female characters. And boy girl, did he succeed! I fell in love with the self-monikered Ford Falcon and her partners in crime: a scrappy rooster named Hatchet, a neighborly Spoonerist named Tom, a mischievous but lovable little brother named Dookie, and a whole slew of others. Make no mistake--this is not an ameliorated view of the future--Ford Falcon lives a tough life in a harsh reality. But she is completely her own hero. Despite the fact that she is surrounded by a cast of supporting characters, she makes her own decisions and needs no rescuing when times get tough. She is an agent of her own change and does not get googly-eyed or distracted. I was thoroughly inspired by this unapologetic, unmitigated female triumph, and I find myself often hearkening back to the words of Mr. Perry’s book inscription, “Sometimes, when times get tough, you just have to go all Ford Falcon.”

Michael Perry will be at the Wisconsin Book Festival this year if you'd like your own chance to hear him talk and read. His event will be on Sunday, October 19th at 11 am at the Central Library.

[And for those who want to know, Michael Perry will publish his first adult fiction book sometime in 2015...stay tuned!]

Comments

Michael Perry is one of Wisconsin's best and most humble writers. I had the pleasure of sitting next to him at a fundraiser and he barely ate his dinner because he kept getting interrupted to sign books and it didn't bother him a bit. Go see him at the Book Festival you won't be disappointed!

I really like Michael Perry so I will read this eventually. I have to say the cover is not very appealing and the name Ford Falcon is cheesy...she has taken a car name? Would a girl name herself after a car? A boy maybe. I guess it is because I have bad memories of owning a Ford Tempo.

I'm a widely-read librarian, so have illusions of being a discriminating reader . . .

Currently I'm listening to The Scavengers on audio and LOVING it. Adult readers familiar with Perry's nonfiction work will delight in some fun nods to other names and places we've visited before, but what a fresh, vibrant work! I love that the book is both appropriate and approachable for tween readers, but with finely-crafted prose that elevates this beyond most tween-focused works (which explains the appeal to adults). Introducing Emily Dickinson and spoonerisms with a light-handed touch are just more examples of Perry's genius.

And to "anonymous" above, you do yourself a disservice by judging a book both by its cover and never having cracked said cover. Ford Falcon is a wholly appropriate name for a girl such as Maggie in The Scavengers. One has but to READ the book to get the context.

I cannot wait to share this book as our next family read-aloud. I am SURE that my 8 year old son and 10 and 14 year old daughters will LOVE both Ford Falcon and her compelling story. There is so much more I would love to write regarding themes, writing craft, treatment of strong female protagonists, and fully articulated supporting characters. But I won't. Just READ THIS BOOK. It is thoroughly enjoyable.

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