Carl Hiassen sure knows how to cook up a doozy of a young adult book. In Squirm, another in his series of books with environmental themes and young protagonist thwarting the evil greedies of the world, Hiassen spins a tale worth a read.
Billy, the hero here, lives in Florida with his sister and his mother, who moves whenever she needs to follow nesting Bald Eagles. Billy traps dangerous snakes. For fun. And for use in tormenting his tormentors. Billy’s father? Long gone, sending checks to support Billy’s family but little else.
The story unfolds around a family unification theme of sorts, and with Billy traveling to Montana, where his long-lost father is doing something mysterious with drones in the wilderness, and where the tale suddenly veers into saving endangered species — the panther of the Florida Everglades — and a Grizzly Bear family in the wilds of the west. Billy also learns about his step-mother and step-sister, and their American Indian roots.
So, you know, typical Hiassen, and that’s not a bad thing. While I still think Flush is his best work in this genre (and I teach Flush as a class novel and kids just love it .. some are reading it right now, in fact), Squirm holds up just fine with humor, plot pacing and a story where looking out for the world continues to be the right thing to do.
Just ask Billy and his family.
Peace (in the wilds),