Living Rough is a short but nevertheless poignant novel by teacher-cum-author Cristy Watson. The story follows Poe through a few difficult and challenging days as he attempts to navigate school and other facets of everyday life without giving away a very sensitive secret. When I started reading the book, I had some idea of what Poe’s secret might be, but Watson’s writing style kept me guessing for the better part of the novel. Poe and his father are struggling to survive after the death of Poe’s mother, but their living situation is far worse than anyone around them imagines. After Poe becomes infatuated with a new student in his grade, things begin to come undone and Poe has a hard time keeping his tangled web together. But when a storm comes through the city, Poe and his father must face their situation head-on.
Watson’s book is incredibly relevant to the plight of unemployed and homeless youth and families, and is also a testament to the human will to survive and protect. Poe learns about the value of friendship and the willingness of individuals to show compassion. This book is a valuable addition to the Orca Currents series of books. Living Rough proves that a quick read does not necessarily prove to be a simple read. Watson has formulated some memorable and complex characters for this narrative, and with the exception of a few static secondary characters, the novel is well-rounded and important. Young readers should find the story compelling, the plot fast-paced and the experience enlightening. I definitely recommend this title.
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