In adolescence we all walk a line between who we are and who we want to become. It can be a delicate line to tread so as to not go overboard and balance is essential. Wirewalker by Mary Lou Hall follows 14 year old Clarence’s journey of navigating who he wants to be.
Clarence Feather has known the same few variables in his life for the past three years since his mother was murdered: sharing a home with a father who can’t stand to look at him, running drugs for his dad’s friend Johnnyprice to make some meager money, and Mr. K and his convenience store. Clarence wants to be the good person that he was, and was destined to be, when his mom was alive, but in making ends meet and surviving his surroundings, he finds that more difficult to do. When he is fully initiated into the adult world around him, that involves dog fighting and a rival drug leader named Y, Clarence realizes that he has some tough decisions to make about his life.
The narrative attempts to tackle a variety of tough, sensitive subjects including bi-racial relationships and identity, drugs, dog fighting, death, and growing up, but it ultimately doesn’t adequately address them all. Each subject is heavy to deal with, but by just scratching the surface of each, there isn’t much offered in the way of addressing them. I felt that the characterization was lacking as Clarence doesn’t read as a teenager, he feels like a small child, which I realize is part of his conflict with himself, but it didn’t come across too well. There were plenty of good ideas presented but the execution of them fell flat while reading. This is just a side note that I factor in as a publisher oddity, but the format of the e-file I received was incredibly odd with two “pages” included on one page, which made it more straining on the eye to read.
Overall, I’d give it a 2.5 out of 5 stars.